Poinsetia belongs to the huge Euphorbiaceae family, numbering about 2 thousand species. Known primarily as a Christmas decoration in homes. In order for the plant to please the eye with its decorative appearance for as long as possible, you should find out what care the poinsettia prefers in the house.
Origin and name
￼The star of Bethlehem (Euphorbia pulcherrima), also called the Christmas star, nativity scene, in fact, the most beautiful spurge. This plant has become an integral part of the Christmas holiday. This type of milkweed is native to Mexico. The name poinsettia was given to the plant in honor of the first US ambassador to Mexico, J. R. Poinsett, who sent it to Washington in 1822. Since then, the popularity of this flower has been growing.
Christmas star flowers are small, inconspicuous. A real decoration are the leaves of the poinsettia - these are colorful bracts that form a large rosette around the flowers. If you look at the plant from above, the beautifully colored leaves look exactly like a star. Mostpopular varieties have red bracts. They contrast beautifully with the dark green color of the leaves. However, there are varieties that have white, cream, yellow or pink bracts.
Like any Euphorbia, it contains a white, pungent sap that can cause allergies in people with sensitive skin. Therefore, you must remember to wash your hands after contact with the plant.
Purchasing and transporting a flower
Poinsetia requires a lot of heat and does not tolerate frost. The plant should be bought on warm and calm days, as it is very sensitive to cold and drafts. Because of this, it is not recommended to buy a Christmas star sold on the street. It is also worth paying attention to the fact that the seller wraps your flower tightly in paper for further transportation.
Poinsetia releases large amounts of ethylene. In open space, this gas quickly dissipates into the air without causing any harm to the plant. However, if the plant remains tightly packed in a film for several days, a high concentration of ethylene accelerates the aging of the flower, which is manifested by a decrease in the decorativeness of the leaves and bracts. It is worth paying attention to this fact when buying poinsettia, especially in supermarkets, where plants are often wrapped in film.
Poinsettia - care
After purchasing and transporting home, you should remove the Star of Bethlehem from the packaging as soon as possible. If you buy a plant as a gift, you must pack it again only on the day of delivery to the owner. The poinsettia is sensitive to gases andtobacco smoke. A few weeks in a room with polluted air causes the leaves of the star of Bethlehem to shed.
In an apartment, the plant requires a warm and bright place (but not near radiators), where the temperature is 18-21 ° C, and constantly humid air. Temperatures below 10°C can cause damage to the leaves, causing them to fall off en masse.
The Star of Bethlehem does not respond well to drafts. Both gusts of cold and warm air can harm her. As a result, the leaves curl and eventually fall off. Therefore, potted poinsettias should always be planted in sheltered locations away from windows and front doors.
Do not allow the base of the plant to dry out, as you will not be able to restore its former beauty later. But do not forget at the same time that excess water can be more harmful to a flower than its lack. So it is better to water the plant moderately, once every two days, not allowing the water to remain on the pot base for a long time. To water the star of Bethlehem, you can use ordinary tap water. But it is best that it be standing, with the temperature prevailing in the room in which the poinsettia is grown. When the room is dry, spray water around the flower or use a humidifier.
Poinsetia care does not need frequent fertilizing. During the growth period, the star of Bethlehem should simply be fed with fertilizer for flowering plants once every two weeks. And with the feeding of plants purchased before Christmas, one should not rush. As a rule, the doses of fertilizers insubstrate, enough for the plant until mid-January.
How to winter the Star of Bethlehem?
Many intermittent flowering plants in apartments quickly become less attractive. The poinsettia belongs to them. After a few weeks, the colorful bracts turn pale and some of the leaves fall off. This is normal, because after flowering, these plants in nature take a short break in the growing season.
Even proper care of the poinsettia will not save you from losing leaves at the end of winter. Then you should shorten its shoots. Thick forms are cut so that no more than 3-4 buds remain on the side branches (they are always in the axils of the leaves). After pruning, the plant is placed for a period of 4 to 6 weeks in a cool room with a temperature of 12-15 ° C, stopping watering and fertilizing. Access to light during this period is not of great importance for the flower.
In order to be able to further grow the plant, in March or April it must be transplanted into fresh, nutritious soil with the addition of 15% expanded clay granules and coarse sand. A soil pH of 5.8 to 6.5 is ideal. Changing the soil is usually enough without changing the pot for the plant.
After transplanting the poinsettia, it is placed in a bright (but not in the bright sun) and warm place, with a temperature of about 20°C. Water generously to stimulate the plant to grow. Top dressings begin to be introduced when new shoots reach a length of several centimeters.
Another importantThe procedure in caring for a Christmas star is to prune the shoots during the summer months. In order for the plant not to be too violent and have a beautiful, compact habit, growers cut off the central shoots.
How to cut the poinsettia? The dense habit of the plant is cut in July, all new stems are shortened by about 2 centimeters. A month later, the procedure is repeated.
Attention! When pruning milkweed, pay attention to the milky juice flowing from its shoots. Contact with this juice should be avoided as it can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. In case of contact with hands, they should be rinsed with warm water so that juice residue does not remain on the skin.
What can I do to make the star of Bethlehem bloom again?
In order to get a good coloring of the upper leaves of the flower at Christmas, from the second decade of November, a special light regime should be observed for the Star of Bethlehem. Leave the plant in complete darkness for 14 hours a day for about 4-6 weeks. The easiest way is to cover it with a lid.
Recall, however, that beautifully blooming and pleasantly colored poinsettia, which are bought in stores, are grown in greenhouses, where there are ideal conditions for them. It is difficult to create these conditions in the home, and not without reason, most people refer to the Star of Bethlehem only as a one-time decoration for several weeks.
The Star of Bethlehem, as a rule, ends its life immediately after the holidays. However, if you decide to grow it next year, it is worthget new seedlings from the old plant.
Propagating poinsettia at home is indeed quite a difficult process, and the resulting plants are not as beautiful and large as those bought in the store, but you can still try.
Spurge is propagated vegetatively by apical cuttings. For this, plants are used that have gone through a dormant period after flowering. As a rule, cuttings can be cut from about April to July. Usually from one flower it is possible to get from 3 to 6 good seedlings.
The top fragments of the shoots are cut off 15-20 cm long. Each of them should have 2-3 fully developed leaves. The cuttings are inserted into the water so that the milky juice stands out from them, and then placed in a mixture of peat and sand, mixed in a 1: 1 ratio. Perlite can be used instead of sand. Before planting in the ground, the ends of the cuttings can be immersed in a rooter. Pots with seedlings should be placed in a bright place. Plants need to be watered regularly to keep the soil from drying out. You should also take care of high humidity, reaching 90%. To this end, the plants are covered with a film or halves of plastic bottles, which form something like miniature greenhouses. Once a day, the covers must be removed to ventilate the seedlings.
If done right, small poinsettias will take root within 3-4 weeks. In order for them to grow well and bloom profusely, it is necessary to feed them with liquid fertilizer for flowering plants. In autumn, preferably in October, you need to start coveringflowers in such a way that in complete darkness (for example, under a cardboard cover) they spend 14 hours a day. The remaining 8 hours must be provided with an abundance of sunlight. Under these conditions, after 4-6 weeks, the poinsettia bracts become bright red. Thus, you can get a poinsettia at home before Christmas.
In the end, it is worth adding that the poinsettia can be additionally decorated for the holidays. To this end, it is worth studying the arrangements prepared with the help of florists. It is possible to create an interesting composition by placing a pot with a Christmas star in wicker baskets and decorate with natural additives such as moss, fir branches, small "paradise" apples or cones. If you want to keep the composition in a modern style, you should take candles, taffeta bows, ribbons, metal and simple, smooth pots.