The Poinsettia plant, also known as the most beautiful euphorbia, is a shrub from the Euphorbia family. It is not the flowers that give it a decorative look, they are small and inconspicuous, but the inflorescence leaves that frame them with a bright wreath. The poinsettia flower is quite unpretentious and, when the necessary conditions are created, will grow well at home.
Description of poinsettia
In their natural environment, these evergreens can grow up to 3 meters in height. They have lanceolate green foliage. The size of the plates reaches 15 cm in length. The bushes acquire the greatest decorative effect during flowering. Although their inflorescences are quite miniature, they are surrounded by bright bracts, painted in bright red, pink or white. There are also species with variegated bracts. Such leaves help to attract pollinating birds to the bushes.
Although the Mexican subtropics are considered the homeland of the plant, poinsettia has long won the love of flower growers around the world. Poinsettia got its name from the botanist and US Ambassador Poinsett, who introduced this beautiful plant into American culture at the beginning of the 19th century. Previously, its bushes were called “the fiery flower of Mexico.” The locals used the plant for folk remedies.
When grown in a pot, the poinsettia is about half a meter high. Moreover, the rate of its growth in a favorable environment can be very high. Before the start of flowering, the bush can grow by about 30-40 cm.
Poinsettia juice is not considered poisonous, but it can still lead to skin irritation in allergy sufferers.
Brief rules for growing poinsettia
The table shows brief rules for caring for a poinsettia at home.
|Lighting level||Requires bright lighting, but shade from scorching rays.|
|Content temperature||The most comfortable conditions for growing a flower are considered to be 20-25 degrees. It shouldn’t be colder than 14 degrees in winter.|
|Watering mode||Watering is carried out about 2 times a week, as the substrate dries up. After flowering, the bushes are watered less often – once a decade.|
|Air humidity||The Christmas flower loves humid air, about 60-65%. Spraying should be carried out regularly.|
|The soil||Growing poinsettia requires a nutritious soil with good drainage properties.|
|Top dressing||During the entire period of development, the flower is fertilized with mineral compositions for flowering species.|
|Transfer||The transplant is carried out after the end of the dormant period, annually.|
|Pruning||It should be pruned annually, observing safety rules when working with a flower.|
|Bloom||The main flowering wave occurs in the winter months.|
|Dormant period||There is no pronounced rest period.|
|Pests||Thrips, spider mite, whitefly, mealybug.|
|Diseases||Gray mold, fungal infections due to improper care.|
Poinsettia after purchase
Most often, poinsettia is purchased as a gift or home decoration on the eve of the holidays. When buying such a plant, you should go to heated stores and choose specimens with unopened buds that grow in not too wet soil. It is not recommended to buy poinsettia in the markets in winter, as there is a risk of getting a plant with frozen roots. It is necessary to ensure that the bush does not freeze on the way home – a temperature of less than 5 is considered critical for it.
After following these rules, the chosen poinsettia is more likely to be able to acclimate to home conditions. In the first weeks, it is kept in a bright place, where there are no drafts, and is kept from 16 degrees. After 3 weeks, the flower can be transplanted into fresh soil. After that, the plant will be able to maintain an attractive appearance for about 2-3 months more – until spring.
It is known that the peel of some fruits – bananas, apples, pears – begins to release ethylene when ripe. Because of its influence on the rate of development of poinsettia, such fruits should be kept away from their bush. Acting on the bracts, ethylene contributes to their wilting.
Poinsettia home care
To preserve the beautiful color of the foliage, the bush needs bright light. In this case, the lighting should be diffused – at noon, the poinsettia should be shaded. You can keep the flower on the windows of the east or west direction. During the flowering period, light plays an especially important role – being in a too dark place, the bush can shed its leaves. If natural light is not enough, lamps can be used. In order for the bush to develop evenly, it should be turned towards the light with different sides.
At the same time, the bush can lay flower buds only in the fall, during a short daylight period. For a more spectacular flowering, you can adjust the light time, from evening to morning for 12-14 hours, completely depriving the plant of light. To do this, cover it with an opaque bag. Such measures will allow the bush to form beautiful bracts of uniform color. With normal maintenance and a longer daylight hours, dark specks may form on poinsettia leaves.
Poinsettia does not like too hot weather and prefers constant moderate heat. It is good if during the day the temperature in the room with it does not exceed 20-25 degrees, and at night it drops to 16-18 degrees. For the summer, you can take the bush out into the air. In winter, when the bush blooms, the room should not be lower than 14 degrees. In this case, it is especially important not to expose the flower to cold. Contact with cold glass and drafts can cause its leaves to fall off.
When the poinsettia retires, sheds the leaf blades and stops growing, the pot with it is kept cool – about 12 degrees. It is important to avoid sudden changes in temperature conditions.
The poinsettia should be watered sparingly, depending on the drying out of the soil layer. Between watering, it should have time to dry out at least 1.5 cm. Excessive moisture or overdrying of the soil will be equally harmful to the plant.
Only soft water is used for irrigation; it is desirable that its temperature slightly exceeds room temperature.
In the summer, the bushes often suffer from dry air. Poinsettia prefers high humidity, about 60-65%, so it can be sprayed or humidified next to it in any other way. The main thing is to use settled or filtered relatively warm water. Insufficient air humidity can lead to a loss of decorative effect of the bush or the appearance of pests.
Poinsettia containers are selected by size – too bulky a pot often leads to stagnation of water and flower diseases. The roots of the bush are small, so two cuttings can fit in a liter pot at once. When replanting, the new container should exceed the previous one by about 2 cm. The voids are filled with fresh earth.
For growing poinsettia, nutritious, slightly acidic soil is best suited. You can use universal soils for euphorbia or independently mix clay turf with leafy soil, sand and peat (3: 2: 1: 1). It is permissible to use lighter mixtures, including humus, peat and baking powder (3: 2: 2). Good drainage should be laid at the bottom of the container.
You can maintain the beauty of poinsettia with regular feeding. The entire period of development, the bush is fed with liquid mineral compositions, adding them twice a month. Fertilizers for flowering species, as well as mixtures for euphorbia or succulents, are suitable. In the summer, you can add a mullein solution at a low concentration. During the flowering period, the bushes should be fertilized with potassium, although some growers during this period, on the contrary, refrain from any feeding. After flowering, the poinsettia begins to gradually pass into the resting stage, and at this time it ceases to need additional nutrition.
The dormant period of poinsettia ends in mid-spring. When fresh leaves appear, the plant should be transplanted into new soil. At the same time, they try not to damage the poinsettia roots, transferring the plant into a new container. To facilitate the procedure, half an hour before taking it out of the pot, the bush is watered abundantly. Visible roots should be inspected for rot. Darkened or damaged roots are cut with a clean, sharp instrument, processing the cuts with crushed coal.
After that, the poinsettia is transplanted into another pot, filling the voids with soil, but not tamping it. The transplanted plant is kept in the shade for a couple of days without watering. Such conditions will facilitate better rooting. Then the Christmas flower can be returned to a bright place and gradually restore the watering and spraying schedule. The transplanted plant will not need feeding for about a couple of months until the nutrients of the fresh soil are exhausted.
Homemade poinsettia will need systematic pruning. It is carried out after flowering, but before the flower leaves for rest. You can also prune the poinsettia later — about a week before the dormant period ends and the plant needs to be replanted. Up to 6 of the strongest shoots are left on it. This activates the growth of lateral shoots and makes the crown of the bush more neat. The tops remaining from the cut can be used for reproduction.
Pruning is especially required for plants that have elongated during the period of active growth. All branches are shortened to a level of 10-15 cm. Due to the rapid development of the flower, such pruning can be carried out several times a year.
Typically, poinsettia begins a dormant period immediately after flowering ends. When the bracts and leaves fall off the bush, the dry and wilted branches are cut off, and the plant itself is transferred to the coolness. It only needs to be watered a little and occasionally, every 7-10 days. By May, the bush should wake up.
The main flowering wave of poinsettia occurs in the winter months. During this period, inconspicuous inflorescences with button-shaped flowers of a light green color appear on it. But the inflorescences are surrounded by bright and large bracts, giving an unusually elegant look. From the outside, they seem to be flowers.
The color of the bracts depends on the variety. In addition to the specific red color, there are also varieties with foliage painted in shades of pink, yellowish, white, and other colors. After flowering, the leaves of the bush fall off. At this time, it is important to properly care for the flower so that it can recover from a dormant period. Not all growers succeed in this, therefore poinsettia is sometimes grown as an annual.
How to make poinsettia bloom
In order for the poinsettia to bloom for sure by next winter, you must follow some care rules. After flowering and dropping of foliage within 1.5 months, watering is reduced, waiting for the soil to dry completely. At this time, the bush is resting. Immediately after flowering (by the end of February) or before the end of the dormant period (in the second half of spring), the poinsettia is cut off, keeping only 4-5 of the largest shoots on it, and the remaining branches are shortened by a third. After the end of “hibernation”, when the formation of green leaves begins, they begin to look after the plant in the usual way.
Starting in late September, poinsettia will lay new buds. During this period, the duration of daylight hours for should not exceed 10 hours. To comply with this condition, the plant is covered with an opaque cap or taken to a dark place – for example, put in a box or cabinet. After a similar “overnight” for up to 14 hours, the plant is returned to the window in the morning. Only in such conditions will the bush be able to form beautiful bracts and flower buds. Even low light during this period will lead to a delay in flowering and the development of not buds, but shoots. By winter, when the days by themselves will be shortened enough, you can leave the flower on the window.
How long can poinsettia be left untreated?
Unlike succulent milkweed, poinsettia requires careful care, and it is not recommended to leave it unattended for a long time. If the owners of the bush need to leave for a long time, and there is no one to entrust him, you should consider watering the plant. If automatic watering of flowers is not provided, the pot is placed in a container with water so that the drainage holes come into contact with moisture and can absorb the required amount of liquid. Another way is to “feed” water to the flower through a synthetic cord threaded through the drainage hole. Its other end is immersed in water.
Reproduction of poinsettia
In nature, poinsettia can multiply by seed, giving self-seeding. When grown at home, the seeds do not ripen, therefore, apical cuttings are usually used to propagate poinsettia. This way of getting new plants is easy enough. Cuttings can be cut immediately after flowering or when fresh branches appear. They should be about 10 cm long and have at least a couple of mature leaves.
The cuttings are briefly immersed in water until the milky juice drains from them. After that, the lower cut is treated with a growth stimulator and planted in the ground, deepening only 1-2 cm. Deeper planting can lead to the development of rot. It is necessary to maintain the temperature within 24-28 degrees. Containers with cuttings must be constantly sprayed and ventilated. They usually take root within a month. Rooted bushes can be pruned for better branching. By October, you can transplant the seedling into a larger pot. Such poinsettias begin to bloom in a year.
Diseases and pests
Among the main problems with poinsettia:
- Sluggish leaves indicate the need for watering.
- Falling leaves occur due to cold in the room, draft or lack of lighting.
- Falling buds can be caused by low humidity levels. For the same reason, the edges of the leaves may darken or turn yellow.
- The leaves wither and fly around from the waterlogged soil coma.
- The foliage turns yellow and curls and then dries up from the heat.
- Shriveled and dry leaves – next to the bush smelled of smoke or gas.
- Silvery spots on the leaves are a fungal disease. The affected parts of the bush are removed, and the rest of the plant is treated with a fungicide.
- Root decay is a consequence of the frequent stagnation of moisture in the soil.
Most often poinsettia is attacked by thrips, spider mites, whiteflies and mealybugs. But if you find parasites in time, it will not be difficult to get rid of them. To do this, wipe the leaves with soapy water, then rinse the flower under a warm shower. When rinsing the plant in the shower, be sure to cover the soil with plastic or other waterproof material.
If the plant is sick with gray rot, then it is necessary to destroy the affected parts and use a special antifungal drug.
Poinsettia varieties with photos and names
Poinsettia comes in many different hybrid forms. Their bracts have a wide palette of colors. Most often, the following varieties of poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are grown at home:
- Cortez Burgundy is a cultivar with crimson-red bracts.
- Cortez Red – Red foliage complemented by green veins.
- Premium Red – The bracts are bright red with a light yellow center.
- Cortez Pink – the variety is distinguished by light pink bracts, which differ in shade: the upper leaves are brighter in color than the lower ones.
- Premium Miro – the bracts of this variety is slightly corrugated and painted in a light pinkish color.
- Winter Rose is a double form with pink bracts and a greenish center.
- Polar Bear – Plants have yellow-green flowers and light leaves with green veins.
- White Star – the variety is distinguished by snow-white bracts.
- Winter Rose White – on such bushes, small green inflorescences surround milky white double bracts.
- Cinnamon Star is one of the more recent varieties with pinkish and salmon-colored bracts.
- Eckespoint Primero Jingle Bells – the bracts of this variety have a bright crimson color and are complemented by white spots.
- Monet Twilight – The bracts are pink in color and look slightly powdered.
How often do poinsettias need to be watered?
In spring, summer, and autumn, poinsettia needs very abundant watering. It must be carried out with water at room temperature about 2 times a week. The liquid should moisten the entire earthy ball in the flower pot. Remove excess water from the sump 20 minutes after watering.
Reference. The next application of the liquid is carried out no earlier than the topsoil dries up from the previous procedure.
In no case should the soil be allowed to completely dry out, this is fraught with the fact that the poinsettia will lose all its green mass. If it was noticed that the leaves of the ornamental plant began to lose turgor in the intervals between watering, it is urgent to perform an additional procedure with a small amount of liquid, and only then return to irrigation as usual in the allotted time.
In summer, it is better to water more often, but in moderation, so that the water stays in the soil for a short time.
In winter, with the arrival of a period of active flowering, a couple of waterings per month will be enough. But in the dormant stage, which occurs immediately after the completion of the fall of the petals, the poinsettia can be practically not watered. This period will last for about a month and a half.
Can you plant a poinsettia outside?
If you live in an area where winters are mild, you can plant the poinsettia outdoors and as a perennial. In colder climates, you can grow poinsettias as houseplants all year round.
Why are the leaves falling off my poinsettia?
Warm or cold airflow. Changes and movement of air masses around the plant, and these are drafts, wind blowers, and air conditioning can cause leaf shedding. Dry hot air. The plant is too hot – yellowness appears on the leaves, buds that have not bloomed fall off.