Did you get a plant as a gift for Christmas? Read on to see how to care for them.
Thousands of poinsettias are bought for Christmas. They can stay as colourful additions to a room until Easter with care. They have been developed from a wild species, Euphorbia pulcherrima, which grows in Mexico so they like warmth and good light but not too much water. Ideally, place your poinsettia near a sunny window. Do not let the plant touch the glass. As with all house plants avoid draughts. Water only when the compost feels dry but then soak the pot. Euphorbias have a bitter white sap so if a stem is broken take care not to get any sap in your eyes. If your poinsettia drops leaves or wilts despite good care, it may mean it suffered cold conditions before you bought it e.g. sitting outside a shop. Poinsettias are grown using dwarfing chemicals and special light regimes which means they are not really worth trying to keep for another Christmas.
Florists’ cyclamen are another popular winter pot plant. They were developed from Cyclamen persicum and unlike some of the dwarf species they are not hardy. They do not like very warm rooms. Keeping them in good light in a cool, well it room or conservatory will make them last longer. They can be grown on to flower in another year. Feed while still in growth then allow the leaves to die back as they naturally become dormant as summer approaches. Only repot if the corm is filling the pot. If a frame is available they can sit there though some very fine cyclamen are grown on windowsills. In autumn, water and feed again.
Most of the pots of bulbs which are bought as Christmas decorations are outdoor types such as hyacinths which were specially treated to advance their normal flowering time. They will flower again if planted out into the garden but not at Christmas. Paperwhite narcissi are not hardy in our climate so are not worth saving.