‘Don’t like cool nights’: Monty Don shares best conditions for poinsettias in your home

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Gardening expert Monty Don is known for sharing his plant and garden tips on TV. The British horticulturist, broadcaster and writer has been the lead presenter of BBC Gardeners’ World since 2003. He has also written and produced several garden series of his own including Monty Don’s American Gardens.

Monty also has his own gardening blog where he shares seasonal tips and tricks.

This month, Monty shared his tips for caring for the popular Christmas plant, poinsettias.

Monty said “hundreds of thousands” of poinsettias will be given as gifts at Christmas but they have very specific care needs.

Monty Don said: “Hundreds of thousands of poinsettias will be given as gifts this Christmas and with a little care these can be made to last looking good for months.

“Poinsettias are only really comfortable in damp warmth.

“Modern poinsettias grown as houseplants are treated with a growth retardant to create the familiar short, bushy shape we all know and love but in their native Mexico poinsettias grow at the margin of the forest to a large 10ft high shrub.”

Monty said poinsettias “don’t like cool nights” but also don’t like hot, dry rooms either.

He explained further: “They do not like cool nights, very hot dry rooms or big fluctuations in temperatures, so keep them where there is a constant average temperature, avoiding draughts, cold windows or even very bright spots that can get very hot in the middle of the day.

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“They like plenty of water but let the compost dry out before giving them a really good soak, standing the pot in a sink full of water and leaving it to stand for 10 minutes or so before letting the excess water drain from the pot.”

Poinsettia’s red bracts are often mistaken for flower petals but they’re not, they’re actually leaves.

The plant is commonly used to decorate homes at Christmas but often fade when festivities come to an end.

However, it is possible to keep poinsettias alive throughout the year.

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Monty said December is a “dismal month” for gardeners in the UK.

He said gardeners should gather leaves and perhaps plant hedges and trees when they can.

The harsh weather and shorter days can make it difficult for gardeners to make changes to their gardens.

Monty added: “In truth, little is asked of the gardener – and very little given back.”

When the weather is dry, Monty said he often goes outside and clears “soggy foliage” and clears his borders.

He leaves plants without support for birds to shelter under.

He said: “But occasionally there are a few days of dry weather early in the month and I try and get out and clear as much fallen, soggy foliage from the borders as possible.

“Anything standing without support is left as cover for the birds and to add a skeletal adornment to the garden but a soggy carapace of rotting vegetation never does any good.”

Gardeners’ World airs tonight at 8pm on BBC Two

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