Tips and tricks to keep poinsettias alive for another year

Before throwing your Christmas plant away, consider these handy tips so that it flowers again next season

ALMUDENA NOGUÉS MALAGA.

In many households the poinsettia plant, with its attractive bright red foliage, is the centrepiece on tables and mantelpieces throughout the festive period in December and sometimes January.

While Christmas trees, lights and tinsel have long been packed away ready for the next season, the poinsettia plant can stay alive well into January. If this is the case, it is time to give it a new lease of life to keep it thriving for the next festive season. Here are a few simple tricks to make sure your poinsettia flourishes.

Although it is certainly possible for the poinsettia to survive another year, the plant will require some time and attention. The first thing to do is to prune the plant when the leaves have fallen, leaving only six centimetres of stem.

"Then it is a good idea to transplant the poinsettia to a new pot, and water it without fertilising until new leaves grow. When the leaves are about to come through, start fertilising them, and to make sure the leaves turn red, keep the plant in complete darkness during the months of September, October and November, covering it with a back bag," the plant care specialists at Viveros Guzmán say.

Online advice

Recently, numerous videos from users sharing their tips on keeping poinsettias alive have gone viral. The instagram reels by @missmalabares have nearly 38,000 views, and offer other plant enthusiasts guidelines for maintaining the health of their poinsettias. They recommend cutting the stem "above the nodes and always diagonally, leaving the stems at the same height".

Another tip is to change the plant pot, removing the plastic bag that it normally comes in "because it can stop the roots from growing properly", they warn. Another piece of advice is to fertilise the plant with topsoil or use powdered cinnamon to seal the cut stems. "This helps them to heal better as it is an effective natural fungicide."

Its location in the house is just as important. The golden rule - repeated by many of the experts consulted - is clear: poinsettias hate sudden changes in temperature. Heating and air conditioning are therefore two of its worst enemies. "Hot air currents cause the plant to become dehydrated," Layen warn. The ideal temperature is 22C during the day and 16C at night, and never below 10C.

Watering

After choosing the perfect spot for the poinsettia, another important question arises. What is the best way to water the plant? This is where the big mistakes are made, normally due to excess watering rather than a lack of it.

Poinsettias don't want too much water. The experts at Viveros Guzmán recommend placing the plant on a plate with some pebbles and a little bit of water at the bottom. It's better if this water is not too cold, just slighty lukewarm.

"It is not necessary to water it from above. The best thing to do is to put it in a tub of water (preferably filtered so that it does not have as much chlorine or limescale) twice a week for 15 to 20 minutes, and then remove any surplus water that has not been absorbed." The excess water can rot the root and make the leaves fall off.