For those of us who just can’t get enough of Christmas (it’s never too early to start decorating for Christmas, by the way), poinsettia is the perfect first step to spreading a little festive cheer in our homes. With its striking red and green leaves, the plant adds a festive touch wherever it goes. But before you rush off on a merry trip to the garden center, it would be good to ask yourself how to water and care for your poinsettia and keep it looking its best.
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Where does the poinsettia come from?
The poinsettia is a species of Euphorbia. It is native to Mexico, where it is actually an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 6 meters tall.
In Mexico, it also has the name “Flores de Noche Buena”, which translates to “Flowers of the Holy Night”. It is believed that this name comes from a biblical story about a Mexican girl who gave a bunch of weeds to the baby Jesus. When placed in front of the manger, they turned into the poinsettia and this was considered a Christmas miracle.
The Advent Star we know forms large, colorful leaves at the end of the stems, arranged in rosettes, which leads to a common misconception: The colorful stars are not the flowers of the plant. They are the bracts.
In the wild form of poinsettia, these bracts are always red. However, there are varieties with creamy white, yellow or pink bracts. Poinsettias with blue, silver or gold leaves, on the other hand, do not occur in nature – they are made by spraying them with color.
Tip: If you want to buy a long-lasting poinsettia, make sure that the small flowers in the middle of the bracts are still closed and not sprayed with paint.
Watering the sacred poinsettia
Poinsettias are fairly easy to grow, but they still require a minimum of attention to thrive. Your plant needs to be checked regularly to make sure it stays happy and hydrated.
How to tell if your poinsettia needs water
The best way to tell if a poinsettia needs water is to poke your finger into the potting soil (we didn’t say it would be elegant!).
- Completely dry: When the soil is completely dry and the flower pot feels light when lifted, soak the plant in the sink. Aim to avoid dry soil completely.
- Semi-dry: If the top inch of soil feels dry but is moist underneath, a little water to top it off is ideal – try to keep the soil moist at all times.
- Moist: If the soil is consistently moist, you can pat yourself on the back for being such a great plant keeper. Leave the poinsettia alone and check it tomorrow with another soil test.
- Soaked/Wet: If the soil is constantly wet or soggy, it will stress the roots. Leave the plant alone for a week before watering it again. It’s tough, we know, but your poinsettia will thank you.
How much water does a poinsettia need?
Well, as with most houseplants, too much water is just as bad as too little. A poinsettia needs enough water to keep the potting soil moist, but not soggy. However, it’s important to remember that the watering frequency for each plant depends on the following:
- The size of the plant
- Where the flower pot is located
- The room temperature
Don’t be deterred, it’s easy if you know how! Here are our tips on how to water your poinsettia so it looks great during the holiday season and is ready for the big day itself. Here are three ways: Choose a technique that works for you and your routine to keep your plants looking fresh and vibrant.
3 easy steps to water the poinsettia
- Water the plant lightly every day: a light daily watering with a watering can is ideal for keeping poinsettia potting soil moist. It should be enough to use no more than a splash or 2-3 tablespoons.
- Soak in a sink: In a sink, gently pour water into the potting soil until it flows through the drainage holes of the flower pot and the soil is soaked. Then let the flower pot drain completely for 10 minutes before putting it back in place. Do this on a weekly basis.
- Add ice: Oddly enough, ice cubes are a great option for watering because there is less risk of contamination – they slowly release moisture into the soil and prevent overwatering. Start with one ice cube per day and keep an eye on soil moisture. The method is also ideal if you leave your home during the Christmas vacations.
Care after Christmas
In the spring, after flowering (around March), poinsettia can be kept almost completely dry for a month. During the growing season from April to fall, it should be watered again with plenty of warm water. The root ball must always be moist and never dry out, otherwise growth will stop. In winter it is enough to water the poinsettia a little.