A part of Christmas celebrations for centuries in its native Mexico, the Poinsettia makes a beautiful decoration which will, with care, bloom next Christmas too.

The red (or pink or cream) coloured parts are not actually flowers but modified leaves called bracts. The real flowers are tiny, yellow and at the centre of the bracts.


Position in a well-lit place. They will tolerate full sunlight but not in mid-summer. Temperature: 13-15˚C during the growing season, but they can be kept at higher temperatures for short periods of time. Water generously, but allow the compost to dry out a little between watering. Mist when in flower if you are keeping it in a warm, centrally heated room. 


Once the leaves have fallen, cut the plant back to about 4” from the compost. Keep the compost just moist and keep the plant in a shady position till May. In May increase the watering a little and once the shoots appear, feed regularly (according to the instructions for the brand of fertiliser used). Prune the plant so that it has four to five main stems. From September onwards the plant needs to have artificial day length created for it. This is easier than it sounds. Take a black plastic bin liner and cover the plant up for 14 hours. This could be from 6 pm to 8 am or whatever night time is convenient for you. This needs to be done for 6 weeks so that the plant will prepare itself to flower again. After the six weeks is over, treat it as a normal houseplant and it should flower at Christmas.