‘Correct’ method to water ‘sensitive’ poinsettia

Learn how to care for Christmas cactus and poinsettias

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Poinsettias are well adapted to the conditions of their native habitat which transfers well to growing as houseplants. However, like a lot of indoor plants, they are sensitive to water, both under-watering and over. Gardening experts have shared the “correct” way to water this festive plant.

Gardening experts from Sutton Manor Nursery explained: “Poinsettias are sensitive plants that are susceptible to being both under-watered and over-watered.

“When under-watered, the plants become dry and begin wilting. Their leaves start to curl and shed. When over-watered, the roots become soggy, leading to root rot which can ultimately kill the plant if left untreated.”

Their leaves will also transform from their gorgeous vibrant red colour to a yellow or even brown and will begin to fall off.

The experts added: “The correct way to water a poinsettia is to do so whenever its soil feels dry, which is usually every two to three days. It’s extremely unlikely that you’ll need to water the plant everyday, unless it is in a drying area such as close to a radiator.”

However, if possible, poinsettias should be kept away from heat sources like a radiator as well as draughts such as close to a doorway.

Between watering or if you feel like you have over-watered the plant, the gardening pros recommended allowing it to drain to remove any excess water.

This will “prevent” the roots from becoming soggy and leading to an increased risk of disease, pests and root rot. The experts added: “You don’t want the plant’s roots to be sitting in water for extended periods of time.”

According to the gardening pros, allowing poinsettias to sit in water for a long period of time is “one of the worst things you can do” to the plant.

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Poinsettias also thrive in light and warmth and should be kept away from areas which are too cold and shaded, also away from direct sunlight.

The experts said the “ideal” environment for this festive houseplant is somewhere warm and cosy which still gets some winter sunlight.

Britons with pets should keep this houseplant out of their home because the sap of the plant can be poisonous to pets, causing sickness and excessive drooling.

Morag Hill, Co-Founder of The Little Botanical, explained: “The ideal temperature for your poinsettia is between 13C and 16C. They are sensitive to extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, so make sure you choose a spot out of draughts and away from radiators.”

According to the expert, making sure the houseplant has great humid conditions can “extend the flowering time” for the plant, meaning owners should also mist it daily. Morag added: “This will mean you can enjoy the vibrant, colourful display for longer.”

To mist houseplants, put some tepid water into a spray bottle and spray around the roots and leaves of a plant, making sure to avoid the flowers, if the plant has them. Do this job in the morning so the plant has enough time to absorb the mist throughout the day.

The plant pro noted: “Your poinsettia will lose its leaves if it is exposed to sudden changes in temperature. To avoid this, make sure you place your plant in a spot that has a constant temperature of 13C to 16C, away from radiators and out of draughts.

“A lack of water may also cause your poinsettia to wilt. Although poinsettias don’t like a lot of water, it is important not to let them dry out completely. Check the soil regularly and give them a drink when the top layer of soil is dry.”

Poinsettias typically last six to eight weeks but with special care, they could last even longer. To make your plant last longer, pruning a poinsettia in April is crucial, cutting it back to around 10cm and keeping it at a temperature of 13C.

During the summer months, the plant will be completely green and bushy and will change back to red from September onwards.

It is also important to allow a poinsettia to receive a maximum of 12 hours of daylight, which may mean bringing it into a dark room to avoid it burning.

While poinsettias are sold in supermarkets and garden centres, it may not always be best to purchase from these retailers. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), said Britons should take note of where the shop has their poinsettia for sale.

It is best to avoid purchasing this festive plant from outdoors on pavements or from a cold shop where there are lots of draughts.

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