The nicknamed Poinsettia Christmas star is in many homes the star of the end-of-year festive tables to which this exotic evergreen plant brings an extremely colorful note. But for many of us, it’s hard to keep a Poinsettia beyond New Year’s Eve! However, it is not one of the most fragile plants. It is therefore quite possible to keep a Christmas Star for a long time and to see it bloom again several winters in a row. Here are the tips for pamper a Poinsettia and spare him the trash after only a few days at home.
Caring for a Poinsettia or Christmas Star
That beautiful tropical plant native to Central America adapts to our interiors as soon as the ambient temperature is between 16 and 22 ° C. Below 15 °, it turns yellow and all its leaves fall. But she also needs a beautiful light without being too strong. We therefore place this plant in the light, not far from a window or a bay window provided that it is not facing south, and taking care to protect the plant from direct sunlight, even in winter.
Once you have taken care to install it in the right place, all that remains is to give your Poinsettia the little care it deserves.
The Poinsettia does not like excess humidity. Also, it is important not to leave water in the pot or saucer because this inevitably causes rotting of the roots and then of the whole plant. Conversely, if it lacks water, its leaves turn brown around their edges and then drop. Each watering must therefore be moderate, but the Christmas Star needs to be watered frequently, every two or three days, with temperate water – preferably at 20 ° C – and if possible not hard. Watering should be reduced as soon as flowering ends.
In our overheated interiors, the Poinsettia can very quickly wither because thehygrometry is insufficient. The leaves and bracts then drop off quickly. This drawback can be overcome by mistings in order to create a more humid atmosphere. Again, preferably a non-hard water like rainwater that we think of recovering. Another solution is to place the pot on a tray covered with well moistened clay balls.
No fertilizer is added during the entire flowering period. On the other hand, it is when the Poinsettia no longer blooms that we can, every four weeks, diluteliquid fertilizer in the irrigation water so that it receives all the nutrients it needs.
It is especially thewhitefly that can infest Poinsettia kept in a too dry environment. It is therefore essential to spray the shrub regularly to protect it against these pests which are rife especially during winter.
Experts recommend carve a poinsettia as soon as spring arrives at the tip of its nose. This is usually the time when the bracts fall off. The size of the Christmas Star comes down to reduce about fifteen centimeters the length of the branches that we want to keep, and aerate the tuft by eliminating all the stems that grow towards the heart of the plant.
We always use a perfectly sharp pruning shears, which must be disinfected before and after pruning each plant in order to prevent any risk of contamination. To do this, simply pass the pruning blades through a flame or alcohol.
It is better to wear gloves when you have to handle or prune a Poinsettia because it produces a toxic juice. Children should not touch this type of plant, nor should people allergic latex.
Repot the Poinsettia
Poinsettia should be repotted after pruning, in the spring, when it seems a little cramped in its pot. We choose a barely larger than the previous one, fully drilled, and in which we start by depositing a drainage layer. Poinsettia needs a mixture of one volume of sand for two volumes of leaf soil.
When the plant is removed, lightly scrape the old soil from the surface and around the roots to remove it. All that’s left is to place the foot in its new pot so that the top of the root ball is 2 or 3 cm below the rim, then fill in with the rest of the substrate which should be lightly tamped by hand around the roots.
After this repotting, we place Christmas Star resting, in a well-lit room with a temperature of around 10 to 12 ° C. During this period, the soil should be almost dry. From the month of May, after the Ice Saints, we can place the pot outside and water the Poinsettia regularly but moderately.
Flowering of Poinsettia
It is not for his flowers that the Poinsettia is sought after but for its bracts. The first, relatively insignificant due to their very small size, are greenish-yellow and bloom in the heart of magnificent leafy bracts very attractive, red in color, but also depending on the variety, yellow, white or cream, and can measure a good fifteen centimeters in length.
For promote the production of new bracts in Poinsettia, it is essential to remove the leaves and wilted flowers, to maintain a good humidity and not to forget to give it fertilizer for flowering plants, as we have specified previously, at the rate of a times per month.
But in addition it must be placed in a dark place so that its bracts are colored, and this for at least 12 hours a day. It is therefore necessary to create a artificial darkness because the night period is too short to suffice. Thus, either the Poinsettia is placed each day in a blind local, either he is covered with a paper bag which is removed after 12 hours, an operation repeated daily so as to obtain this essential alternation between light and dark until the bracts show their beautiful coloring.