‘Ideal temperature’ to keep festive poinsettia at during winter

Learn how to care for Christmas cactus and poinsettias

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Poinsettias are popular houseplants often used in Christmas displays. They usually last for four to six weeks, sometimes even longer with the right care. Experts have shared care tips to follow, including the ideal temperature to keep a poinsettia at.

Dani Turner, customer experience director at online florist Bunches, said: “With its show-stopping red flowers and star-shaped leaves, the classic Christmas poinsettia is a wonderful festive gift or addition to your home – plus it’s easy to care for.

“Poinsettias need warmth and light but keep them away from draughty spots including open doorways, breezy hallways, and open fireplaces.

“Keep your poinsettia in a sheltered spot to ensure it thrives, with an ideal temperature of between 15 to 22 degrees, making them well suited to bedrooms and living rooms.”

If the plant is kept consistently at this temperature, the houseplant will be happy and should “thrive”. When it comes to the location of the plant, this plant loves the sun. 

The expert said during the winter months it is fine to pop the plant on a south-facing window because winter has less direct sunlight.

In the summer, it is best to keep the festive plant away from any direct sunlight because it can end up scorching the leaves.

The plant expert added: “Poinsettias don’t need a lot of watering and would rather be on the dry side rather than too moist. The trick is to water little and often and only when the soil is noticeably dry.”

A quick test to know whether the plant needs water or not is to check if it is evenly dry at around two centimetres into the soil. If it is, it needs a little water, but if it is still moist, it is best to leave it.

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Dani continued: “If it’s kept in a centrally heated or warm room, you could also mist it to mimic the humid conditions poinsettias like. Lastly, a little-known fact is that they prefer soft water such as rainwater which is naturally low in minerals.

“You can collect it outside to water your poinsettias. In hard water areas, you can also boil water first and let it stand for a day.

“The minerals will deposit rather than mix with the water. You can also use distilled water or a water filter.”

According to Alex Biggart, a florist at 123 Flowers, owners of the poinsettia should make sure they water directly into the soil, avoiding splashing the water onto the leaves.

The expert said the water should be able to drain through the bottom of the pot so the roots don’t rot. Alex added: “A great hack is to place an ice cube on the soil so it hydrates the plant as it melts.

“Keeping other plants nearby or having a humidifier in the room can help maintain a humid atmosphere for your poinsettia to flourish.”

Britons with pets should also avoid this plant altogether because it is toxic to cats and dogs. If a leaf or stem on the plant is broken, it will leak a milky sap which can be an irritant to humans and animals.

With the right care, poinsettias should last up to six weeks. However, owners can also have a go at keeping them alive throughout the following year, aiming for a fresh bloom of colour next Christmas.

If you fancy keeping your poinsettia into the New Year, houseplant owners need to prune it in April, cutting it back to around 10cm and keeping it at a temperature of about 13C. 

Then, repot it in early May, allowing it to continue to grow over the summer. During the summer months, a poinsettia will appreciate a temperature of 15C to 18C, along with lots of light. 

Morag Hill, Co-Founder of The Little Botanical, explained: “During the summer your plant will be completely green and bushy and the change to the red or white colour that we associate with these plants is stimulated by the shorter days as the seasons change.

“To encourage a good strong colour in time for Christmas, ensure your plant gets a maximum of 12 hours of daylight from September onwards. This may mean having to bring them into a dark room after 12 hours of daylight during September.

“Feed it once a month with a potassium-rich fertiliser. Whether you want to make the poinsettia the centrepiece of your Christmas table or bring a touch of festive charm to your living space or office.”

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