Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
Poinsettia is very popular as an indoor flowering potted plant for Christmas decoration. It is much-loved for its large, festively coloured ‘flowers’ (actually leafy bracts). Poinsettia are usually vibrant red but there are also varieties in white and tones of pink and yellow. Some have double flowers.
The poinsettia is a large, winter-flowering shrub that grows in warm temperate and subtropical gardens in warm, sunny locations. It will reach 3m high in gardens. The potted plants that are available for sale in December as Christmas decorations are manipulated to flower out of season. This is possible as poinsettia flowers in response to short daylength. Christmas flowering is produced by artificially shortening the days using blackout screens in the nursery (usually in glasshouses) to extend hours of darkness.
Potted poinsettia will flower for at least six weeks indoors in a brightly lit spot or on a patio. After flowering finishes, the plant can be cut back lightly and transferred into a larger container or into the garden to flower in winter. It will not repeat flower at Christmas.
Aspect Poinsettias grow in full sun to part shade or in a bright, well-lit spot indoors as a temporary indoor plant.
Potting mix/soil Use a premium potting mix for indoor plants such as Seasol Indoor Potting Mix. In the garden, plant in well-drained soil enriched with organic compost and/or Seasol Super Compost.
Climate Poinsettias prefer a warm temperate to subtropical climate. They are native to Mexico. In colder areas select a warm, sheltered microclimate protected from cold and frost such as against a north-facing brick wall. Cold conditions can kill plants.