WITH its vibrant red and green foliage, the poinsettia is the quintessential Christmas symbol.
As well as adding a splash of colour and festive cheer to the home, it also makes a unique and lovely Chrissy gift.
But did you know these plants don’t actually flower during the Aussie festive season?
Richard Dekkers from Flora Plant shares his knowledge of the poinsettia.
How do poinsettias flower at Christmas in Australia?
They flower naturally in winter, during a short day, and are “forced” for Christmas.
We grow them in an area where we can shorten the day length; we have spots in our nursery called blackout areas where curtains close at 4pm daily and open 13 hours later.
This creates a short day period which triggers the poinsettia into thinking it is winter.
They last in colour up to three months and come in an array of hues including pink.
Where and how should people plant them?
They are great for inside the home and out.
Pick a spot in the garden where it gets plenty of indirect sun and the soil is perfectly drained.
A little tip is to add some compost and put it in the bottom of the hole and then put a thin layer of soil over this to prevent the roots from burning.
When you are planting, knock the plant out of the pot and plant it into the hole.
Add more compost on top or some slow-release fertiliser and these plants will thrive.
Be sure not to damage the bracts of the plants as this will cause a wound which could lead to infections.
It is best to acclimatise the product after being in the home and slowly get it used to outdoor conditions using slow steps like placing them under the patio for a week or so before placing into the garden.
What care do they need?
We recommend enjoying your poinsettia in the home for the first 8-12 weeks and then planting them into the garden.
Be sure, while inside, to keep well clear from heating or cooling vents and high air flow areas – this way the product will last the best.
They like a well-drained soil and do not like being water logged.