Christmas Challenge: How Not to Kill the Poinsettia!
Have you just purchased your beautiful Christmas star to decorate the house and, like every year, the tough challenge starts to keep it alive and not let it die after a week? Do not worry, we will help you this year! The Christmas Challenge officially starts: how not to kill the Poinsettia!
First of all, if the Christmas star every year leaves you punctually after two weeks, don’t get down; keeping this plant alive is really difficult, experts say, and it’s not about being black thumbs, because even the most experienced people in gardening have different difficulties with this plant as beautiful as it is delicate.
So let’s roll up our sleeves and see what are the secrets, tricks and all the tricks to grow the Christmas star well!
First of all, what do we know about this plant?
We know it is native to Mexico and the number one houseplant during the Christmas season in different parts of the world. It blooms between December and January and with a little patience, we can try to make it bloom again for the following year.
Everyone knows it in its bright red color, but the Christmas star also exists in a white, pink and cream-colored version. Then there are the two-colored species, the spotted ones and also the orange Poinsettias. The white Christmas star, which recalls the whiteness of snow and winter, is considered the most delicate, refined and elegant species, perfect also for decorating more formal spaces such as offices and commercial spaces.
Many think that the large colored bracts of the poinsettia are its flowers, but in reality, they are its leaves; the flowers, on the other hand, are those of the tiny yellow berry structures that are located in the center of each leaf bract.
This is the basic information and now … let’s get to the heart of the matter. This year, if the world falls, we won’t let this Christmas star die. Quite right? So let’s get started!
A caution when you buy the Christmas Star
For the series … who starts well is halfway there! Yes, because the many stores and even supermarkets that sell poinsettias often place them near the entrance of the store in the hope that customers are tempted to buy them as they enter or leave.
Here, you should never buy a poinsettia positioned next to a series of automatic doors that open every thirty seconds, because that will surely have been damaged by the wind and the cold (because this poor thing, remember, comes from Mexico and Mexico ago just a little warmer!). Exposure to drafts or temperatures below 12 ° C will cause several damages to the plant and even if at first it seems completely normal, the plant could begin to lose the leaves as soon as you bring it home.
Better to go to a nursery or to specialized dealers who know this plant well and know that exposing it to continuous currents while waiting for someone to buy it means condemning it to certain death.
Then, let’s talk about the appearance of the plant, very important for understanding its health.
A healthy poinsettia must have intact bracts. If the small yellow shoots between the colored bracts – the real flowers – are compact, then you will know that the quality of the plant is good. If not, leave that plant down and look elsewhere.
If possible, also check the soil of the Poinsettia before purchasing: it should not be too wet or completely dry because for this plant balance and the middle ground are everything. Finally, when you have chosen your poinsettia, protect it from the wind when transporting it home, especially if you will have to travel by car for a long time, perhaps with a paper wrapper.
Be careful when you water
Poinsettias don’t like to drink a lot of water. Always remember that the root system of the plant should neither dry out nor be too drenched. Excessive absorption can quickly lead to water stagnation, which in turn could cause root rot. And if this happens … the plant won’t go very far!
You should get into the habit of constantly inspecting the leaves of the plant; if they turn yellow or fall, you are probably not watering the right way. Just like in the case of orchids, the Christmas star does not need liters and liters of water. A small amount of water once every two days will suffice, or if you are opting to immerse the entire root system in water, then one dive a week will suffice in this case. And then remember: poinsettias prefer water at room temperature.
The right temperature
Christmas stars need heat and light. If you place the plant near a source of heat, such as the radiator, the heat will not hurt them, but what matters is that there are no open windows nearby, corridors exposed to currents and doors that open and close.
Place the plant somewhere that attracts daylight; a window sill may be fine, provided that the window is not left open and it should always be kept in mind that the ideal temperature is between 15 – 20 ° C.
The life of the plant after Christmas
To ensure that the plant survives until next year, you will have to prune the Christmas star in April, at about 10 cm, and keep it at a temperature of 13 ° C. Then repot in May and grow in a cool and bright place during the summer, ideally at a temperature between 15-18 ° C.
When November comes again, it’s time to start taking some important precautions: 12 hours of daylight will be needed to be followed by 12 hours of complete darkness to “warn” the plant that the shorter days of winter are about to arrive. In short, as if to say: yes, now you can begin to bloom.
If you get to this point, well … in this case you have won and overwhelmed the challenge: you have been really good! From this moment on, the Christmas star will no longer hold any secrets for you!