The story of Poinsettia
What you first notice about the poinsettia are the beautifully coloured leaves. They’re often thought to be the flowers, but are actually bracts that form a star shape around the true flowers, which are small and yellow in the heart. The classic red poinsettia is familiar, but trending for December 2019 are modern pastel colours such as salmon, pink, lemon and apricot. It’s an instant mood maker for the holidays and thereafter, because this winter bloomer provides a colourful start to 2020.
Poinsettia (the scientific name is Euphorbia pulcherrima, but it’s also known as the Christmas star) originates from Mexico and Central America, where it grows as a herbaceous shrub that can reach a height of 4 metres. The plant blooms outdoors from November to February, and the bush is bare in summer. The Aztecs considered the plant to be holy; they called it Cuitla-xochitl.
Poinsettia is a ‘short day’ plant on which the star-shaped bracts take on colour when the days get shorter, which coincides nicely with the Christmas period in the northern hemisphere. The range is constantly expanding, and poinsettia is offered from mini and standard through to hanging plant and bush shape. The main colours are red and white, while new colours such as lilac, salmon, cream and bicoloured poinsettias are making rapid progress. The bracts are increasingly being decorated with glitter, dyes or other decorative treatments. The appealing bracts mean that the plant offers unlimited opportunities to create atmosphere in the run-up to Christmas.
What to look for when buying Poinsettia
- The pot size and number of bracts must be in proportion, and the plant must be ripe enough to show good colour.
- There is a choice of single-headed plants, minis, topped or branched plants, standards of various heights and hanging plants.
- They must all be free of pests and diseases; particularly check for whitefly on the underside of the leaves.
- Damaged bracts or foliage are usually caused during shipping or storage, particularly if temperatures are too low.
- Yellow leaves indicate too little moisture, whilst the loss of berries or buds is a sign of too little light.
- Poinsettia is very sensitive to cold, so wrap it carefully after purchase for the trip home.
Care tips for customers
- Poinsettia likes a light spot without bright sunshine.
- The soil should always be slightly damp.
- The plant cannot cope with draughts or very warm locations, such as above the radiator or next to a crackling log fire.
- Some plant food once a fortnight is appreciated
- If your poinsettia’s leaves turn yellow and drop off, you should place the plant in a cooler and lighter spot and increase the humidity. That should perk it back up.
Sales and display tips
The trend for December 2019 is a cheerful Christmas in pastel colours. The poinsettia can be pitched nicely together with Christmas decorations in various festive styles, from classic red and white to trendy candy colours. The emphasis this year is on the pink, green and apricot shades. Display the modern colours in matching festive pots; during this busy month it’s important to help the customer save time as much as possible. One original idea is to display the plants in a Christmas tree shape or to decorate a Christmas tree with minis as a spectacle display. Wrap the roots in sphagnum in order to prevent them from drying out or hanging in the tree in small buckets. Alternatively decorate a large poinsettia with fairy lights as an alternative Christmas tree.
For more information about the 2019 Houseplants of the Month selection, click here.
You can download the poster using the link below: