Botanical name: Euphorbia pulcherrima
Popular as Christmas houseplants, the poinsettia is a widely available and brings a splash of colour to our homes in winter.
Firm, branching stems, carry large, soft leaves and at their tips showy red, pink or cream bracts (rather than petals). The actual flowers are the small, yellow ball-like structures at the top of each stem.
These plants like bright light, but away from direct sunshine, with a fairly consistent temperature around 16-21° (65-70°F). Water them to keep the compost just moist (so not dry or soggy), watering when the surface of the compost feels dry to the touch.
Poinsettia dislike hot, dry conditions such as near radiators; cold and draughty spots including in empty hearths or windowsills over night. Try not to over- or under-watering by keeping the compost just moist. Avoiding these dislikes prevents the common problem of plants dropping their bracts and leaves over.
Did you know?
Take note of where the retailer has their poinsettia for sale. Avoid those outdoors on the pavement or in a draughty, cold shop as these chilly conditions will often cause the colourful bracts to drop off within days of your purchase. Where possible, buy from a warm greenhouse at a garden centre or where they have arrived freshly inside stores such as supermarkets and DIY centres.
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.