Each Christmas we spend millions of pounds on ‘the tree’ and house plants, with Poinsettia a confirmed favourite year after year. But keeping these investments alive and healthy into the New Year and beyond demands some attention and some very special pots.
And, yes, it is possible for a Poinsettia to last for years and years – if it is looked after well.
LECHUZA makes plant pots (in a massive range of shapes, colours and sizes) with built-in irrigation systems, ensuring plants get the right amount of water for optimal growth. Getting this right is essential for fir trees and Poinsettias.
Of course, the only Christmas tree that will survive year after year is one with growing roots. The poor old trees that are sawn off will just about last the festive season. But a properly cared for rooted tree will last for many years and often until it becomes so big it has to be planted outside in the garden!
It is unlikely that a tree over four feet tall, even with a healthy root ball, will survive its first Christmas as a pot plant. Select a smaller tree and check that it has a healthy root ball that has not dried out. Some garden centres sell small, pot-grown trees that are ideal for potting up and growing on and because there is no root disturbance, they can often do very well.
Plant it in a Lechuza CUBICO* pot with a good quality peat-free potting compost and fill the water reservoir. There’s no need for plant food at this stage. Try to pot it up in late November or early December and, if possible, keep it outside in a frost-free area. It will love the rain and even a light covering of snow but will positively hate high winds.
Bring it under shelter a few days before you plan to decorate, so that the top dries out – but keep the water reservoir full. Avoid radiators or direct sources of heat, as these can dry out the needles.
On or before the Twelfth Night (5 January) take the pot and tree outside again, back into its frost-free protected zone and leave it until the spring. It should not need repotting until the following post-Christmas period but do feed it with liquid plant food from spring onwards.
Give it some proper TLC and it will reward you with many Christmases of pleasure. Repot it every couple of years into the next sized Lechuza pot and, when it eventually becomes too large for the house, plant it in the garden. By that time, it will be a fully-fledged member of the family.
Now for that Poinsettia, with its vivid scarlet leaves – the perfect colouring for a Christmas table decoration. These plants hail from Mexico where the weather can be as hot as the food so a British sitting or dining room at the end of December would hardly be its first choice as a home. But all is not lost and with the combination of care and a Lechuza CUBE 14** self-watering container, your Poinsettia could be with you for several years.
The key tips to ensuring survival through the Christmas period are:
Never buy a Poinsettia from an outside market stall. The cold will mean it drops leaves a few days after you bring it home.
– Keep the soil moist, but not wet, from mid-December through the mid-January.
– Poinsettias like to be in a sunny and warm position, totally draft free and, at night, the temperature must not fall below 13 degrees C (55 degrees F). That most probably means moving the plant away from the window at night and towards the centre of the room where the temperature is more stable.
– Overwatering is the most frequent cause of leaf drop and failure and this is why the LECHUZA container is absolutely essential. It carefully monitors the moisture to ensure optimum growing conditions (a water level indicator shows how much water is still in the reservoir and signals when a refill is needed).
– Being Mexican by origin Poinsettias will not tolerate frost, so don’t move the plant outside or into an unheated greenhouse after the festivities end. Instead, just keep it warm and moist.
– In early spring allow the compost to almost dry out by not refilling the reservoir on your LECHUZA pot. Then cut back the stems to 10cm (4”). Place the pot and plant on a bright windowsill with an even temperature. In early May check to see if the plant needs repotting either with a larger LECHUZA pot or simply with fresh, nutritious compost. Refill the water reservoir and add some liquid plant food. Soon, new shoots will begin to appear. Leave five or six stems and keep it warm and moist.
– In September, to ensure the plant is once again resplendent with its vivid scarlet leaves, you need to take some rather unusual steps. Ideally the plant needs 14 hours of total darkness (this can achieved by bagging it in a black bin liner) then 10 hours in bright light. Continue this bagging process for about two months and then treat the plant as normal and, hey ho, your Poinsettia is ready to take centre stage at Christmas – once again.