In their homeland, in Central and South America, poinsettias are really big shrubs. They lignify over the years. Plants cultivated in our country, on the other hand, are small, but much more branched and densely leafed. The main flowering time for us is from November to February. Older specimens can impress with flowers almost all year round.
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The poinsettia is one of the most popular and best-selling houseplants worldwide, even though the plant is usually only offered seasonally. In Germany alone, between 35 and 40 million copies are sold annually. It should be noted that the milky sap of the poinsettia, which belongs to the euphorbias and milkweed family, can cause skin irritation or poisoning and digestive disorders if it comes into contact with the skin and if swallowed.
Animals usually react more sensitively than humans. In rodents such as guinea pigs, rabbits or hamsters, severe symptoms of poisoning can occur. Cases of poisoning are also known in dogs, cats and birds. Irritations of the mucous membranes occur, symptoms in the gastrointestinal tract and cramps, often accompanied by bloody diarrhea. In severe cases, the body temperature drops, movement sequences slow down and become unsafe, paralysis can occur, the liver is damaged and serious damage to the heart rhythm system can occur. In the case of small pets, poisoning can lead to death.
Poinsettias are short-day plants, which means that they only bloom if they receive less than 12 hours of light during the day or, in other words, if they are in the dark for more than 12 hours. That is why the plants in our nurseries have to be covered with dark foil so that the plants bloom in time for Advent. The flowers of the poinsettia are very small and inconspicuous. Many plant enthusiasts mistake the colored bracts for the flowers, but this is not the case. The so-called bracts are used to attract insects. The best colors are now available, because many companies invest in growing a wide variety of poinsettias. In addition to the traditional red tones, there are now salmon-colored, variegated, white and two-tone varieties.
- Sonora White
- Mars White
- Premium White
- Bright White Princes
- Red Elf
- Dark Red Anette Hegg
- Da Vinci
- Pink Peppermint
- Sonora Pink
- Ice punch (red and white)
- Maren (red and pink)
- Marblestar (pink and white)
- Sonora White Glitter (red and white)
Poinsettia – care
Poinsettias are often simply thrown away after the Christmas season. You don’t get a lot of maintenance and then you don’t look that great anymore. One or the other leaf is missing and, moreover, they no longer match the furnishings that have already been trimmed for spring. They end up in the bin, and it is not that difficult to continue to care for the plant over the year and to get it to bloom again in the next Christmas season.
When buying, it is important to pay attention to healthy plants, not to expose them to cold temperatures and not to keep them too wet. The poinsettias are often placed incorrectly in the supermarket, in the draft at the entrance area. These specimens have little chance of survival. Within a few days, such plants shed their leaves and then you can forget about them. Nothing is known about the transport of the plants either. They can also be exposed to the cold. It is often better to get your poinsettia from a nursery you trust, even if it costs a little more. I’ve had good experiences there. It is important to get the plant well wrapped up because it does not like cold or drafts. The car should also be preheated before driving. It is not recommended at all
If you have arrived home happy with the poinsettia, it needs a suitable location. This is very important for survival.
- The plant needs a warm and light place
- Direct sun is not that cheap.
- The wrong location is above a heater.
- Never expose to drafts!
- Temperatures between 15 and 22 ° C, not below 15 ° C and not above 24 ° C!
- If there is too little light, the plant will deteriorate and can also develop yellow leaves.
For poinsettias you need a special substrate. You have to mix it up yourself. It is important that it is extremely permeable. Excess water must be able to run off. A drainage layer on the bottom of the pot is ideal. Poinsettias do not tolerate waterlogging at all and react immediately with leaf waste.
- One uses a soil based on peat and mixes one part of sharp, sterile sand or perlite with three parts of it.
- In an emergency, compost-based potting soil is also suitable.
- Put a layer of pebbles or potsherds on the bottom of the pot for drainage.
- Despite everything, it is always important to ensure that there is no water in the coaster after watering. This has to be poured off.
If you want to continue cultivating the poinsettia after the season, it should be repotted. You do this at the beginning of spring, after the end of the resting phase and ideally annually.
Watering and fertilizing
Most poinsettias are drowned. You only need a little water. It rains little in their homeland, but then it rains heavily. After that, it usually takes a long time for water to come back. The plants have learned to store water and use it in times of drought. This also works in a warm living room. So, rather too little than too much water! If there is too little moisture, the plant lets the leaves hang down, but usually recovers quickly after watering if you haven’t allowed them to wither completely. However, if the roots rot due to too much moisture, the poinsettia can usually no longer be saved.
- Do not pour with cold water!
- Use only water at room temperature!
- Pour very little!
- If there is too much water, a poinsettia quickly sheds its leaves.
- You only pour when the earth is almost completely dry.
- Fertilize all year round, except immediately after flowering.
- Provide nutrients every 4 weeks with a complete fertilizer rich in potash!
- 5 weeks before reducing the duration of daylight, you begin to fertilize with a phosphorus-rich flowering fertilizer, every 14 days. However, you have to strictly adhere to the manufacturer’s information on quantities! It is better to use less than too much fertilizer!
Maintain poinsettia throughout the year
It is definitely worth cultivating a poinsettia further. It’s not difficult at all. You only have to have a hand for the water supply.
- Prune the plant heavily in spring!
- Completely remove old flowers!
- New shoots must be able to form from below and they need space.
- No sun exposure during the summer.
- Pour moderately!
- Use soft and warm water!
- In the fall, reduce the light to around 10 to 11 hours.
- New flowers only develop with little light.
- The poinsettias have to get by with the little light for about 6 weeks.
- It is best to put a box or bucket over the plant every day.
Normally, a poinsettia does not have to be cut, only if you want to continue cultivating it. Then you cut it at the end of the flowering season. This is usually the case towards the end of spring. Then the poinsettia begins to shed its colorful bracts and begins its resting phase. This is the best time to cut.
- The shoots are then shortened by about half.
- No more cutting measures are required.
Most of the poinsettia is propagated by cuttings. It’s not that easy, though. In addition, poinsettias are always offered quite cheaply. Another method is peeling, but it requires expertise and experience.
Diseases and pests
I have already mentioned several times that the poinsettia does not tolerate moisture. He reacts with leaf waste. This also happens if he has been exposed to too much cold or drafts. Otherwise the plants are usually quite healthy.
White flies or mealybugs are common pests, but mostly only if they are poorly cared for. Sciarid gnats can also occur. Spider mites also occur in very poor husbandry. Then the room air is usually too dry.
The poinsettia is one of the most popular houseplants, and not without reason. The plants enchant with their great colors. They are simply a part of Advent and Christmas. Cultivation is actually quite simple, but many plant enthusiasts find it a little difficult. This is certainly also due to the fact that you buy previously damaged plants. They are often not properly cared for, kept too wet or too dry, exposed to drafts or even temperatures below 15 ° C. Poinsettias don’t like that. So you have to be careful to get a very healthy plant. The soil must neither be too wet nor too dry and all leaves must be firm and healthy. Growing a healthy poinsettia is easy. Even getting it to bloom again for the next season is not difficult. For many plant lovers, however, the effort is not worth it and they dispose of their poinsettia when it loses its leaves. It doesn’t have to be.