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Poinsettias (Christmas Flowers)

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Beautiful Gardens of Doon-52

A must for every garden

By SUNITA VIJAY

The fiery red plant, Poinsettia, makes for a beautiful plant. They are known as Flowers of the Holy Night. It is the flower of this season and has gained popularity lately. They originated from Mexico and were later introduced to the other parts of the world. Commonly known as the Christmas flowers, they not only look classy but add the required richness to the garden, veranda or balcony.Nov-Dec garden mainly has Chrysanthemums, Marigolds and few other flowering plants but they maylose in the race with Poinsettia as it will continue to bloom till March and will be at its peak during Christmas. It is an ideal gift plant for the season and stays well indoors adding colour to the living room. These days Poinsettias are available in other colours too apart from deep red. It is a pleasure to have Poinsettias in one’s yard.

Selecting a plant

Select a healthy bushy potted plant. Use your own discretion while selecting a plant. It should be green dark with plentiful foliage. If you find that the yellow buds in the centre of the flower have started to fall off or are missing, do not buy, it isn’t fresh. If the leaves have turned yellow or paleor greenish white, avoid buying it. Check for insects or any disease affecting the plant.

Care of Poinsettias

Poinsettias donot require special care. They are hardy and appealing.

Sunlight: Poinsettias require five to six hours of sunlight but not direct, only diffused light or morning-evening sunlight. They cannot tolerate direct bright sun. Temperature: They do well in temperature North Indian winter presents. Its only during peak winters extra care will be required. During peak winters keep them in shade. They may not survive if kept under direct sky. Water: Poinsettias love moist but not wet soil. Donot over water or keep them dry. It will show its unhappiness by wilting. Check the soil. If dry, add water if you find excess water than wait for it to dry before watering again. Check for proper drainage in the pot.

Blooming tips

Apart from requiring light for at least eight hours daily, Poinsettias require complete darkness during night time. Try to keep them in a place where they are in complete darkness for 12-16 hours of complete darkness. Do not keep them in a place where a light bulb is on at night.

Fertilizers

Poinsettias donot require any fertilizers during their blooming period. They require fertilizers once the blooming is over. Add fertilizer every month during their growth period.

Post bloom care

Once the flowers have withered cut the stems into half.Keep the pots at a warm, dry place and keep them moist. New saplings can be propagated through fresh cuttings. The cuttings should be planted during the monsoon season. Keep them under cover where diffused light and morning sunshine is received by the plant. Do not over water otherwise they will rot. Keep pinching the new stems every month till the month of August to encourage bushy growth. Stop pinching after August to let the branches mature to produce flowers. More branches will give more flowers. It looks best when kept short and with dense growth. With proper care Poinsettias will remain with you for years. Poinsettias are expensive, it is better to invest once and ripe the fruit in coming years by propagating. With adequate care,they will bring joy year after year.