In the last few months of the year the poinsettia is one of the most-sold house plants. Its star-shaped, brightly-coloured bracts make it the perfect plant for Christmas gifting or for adding a little festive cheer to the home. If you’re looking to buy a poinsettia for Christmas here’s some advice to help you choose a healthy one.
Avoid the supermarkets
From November, poinsettias are widely available in shops and garden centres just about everywhere but think carefully about where you purchase yours. Steer clear of poinsettias that have been exposed to the cold or left standing outdoors. Supermarkets have a tendency to display poinsettias at the front of their stores where draughts from the opening and closing doors can radically reduce the shelf life of the plant. The consequences are often not visible until days later, when the poinsettia suddenly drops its leaves. In this case there’s little hope of recovery, and the only recourse is to go out and buy a new plant. Save yourself the trouble and buy your poinsettia from a reputable florist shop, where you can be sure every care will have been taken to give your plant the best chance to thrive.
Do a health check
In order to assess the quality of a poinsettia, take a close look at its leaves. Fresh, plants that have been given proper care can be recognised by their full, balanced foliage without any visible damage, discolouring or deformation. A simple tap test will show whether the foliage will deliver on its promises. If a light tap against the sides of the pot causes the leaves to drop, it’s better not to buy the plant.
When trying to choose a healthy poinsettia another good tip is to look at the plant soil. Poinsettias should never be overwatered, but neither should they be allowed to dry out. To find out whether a poinsettia has been watered properly, just stick a finger in the pot. If the soil is slightly moist and there is no sign that the pot has been standing in water, there is no reason not to buy it.
Bundle up for the journey home
In order to ensure that your carefully-chosen poinsettia makes it home in good condition, it should be properly packed in paper to protect it from the cold and then transferred to its new location straightaway. Care must also be taken when wrapping and transporting the plant to avoid damaging the branches or foliage. Every injury to the plant will weaken it and the leaking sap can also leave stains.
Learn how to look after it
Poinsettias have an undeserved reputation for being quite tricky to care for however, with a little know how and a lot of patience, it is perfectly possible to keep your plant thriving until next Christmas. The most important thing to know about poinsettias is they are warmth-loving plants. Even a brief spell unprotected in the cold is enough for poinsettias to suffer lasting damage. See our top poinsettia care tips to keep your plant thriving for longer.
With thanks to Stars of Europe.