Dwarf Poinsettia Christmas Flowers

December 21, 2013 in Flowers and Bulbs by Christine

Poinsettia Plants for Christmas 

Poinsettia Euphorbia pulcherrima are traditional Christmas flowers in Australia known for their bright red bracts makes them a popular plant for Christmas decorations. When has the exotic Poinsettia been associated with Christmas? The red star shaped flower cherished by the Aztecs as a symbol of purity, loved as a Christmas flower as a symbol of the Star Of Bethlehem and which belongs to the genus Euphorbia is indigenously Mexican, South American and Australian. The Christmas legend surrounding poinsettias is about two little children, who gathered up some weeds on the roadside, because they had nothing to take to church on Christmas Eve to decorate the cradle of the baby Jesus. Naturally, everybody laughed at them. And then suddenly the green leaves, growing in a star shaped bunch on the top of the weeds, turned a beautiful rich exotic red in colour. And that is what The Glory of the Poinsettiamakes poinsettias one of the best loved of Christmas flowers, as a symbol of humility and transformation. The Poinsettias are sub-tropical plants well know for their Christmas floral displays with their bright scarlet red leaves and dark green foliage from this the real poinsettia flower is the insignificant flower cluster in the centre of the red bracts. The poinsettias grow best in the warmer climates of Australia. Did you know that in 1925 the poinsettia was chosen to be Brisbane Australia floral emblem. Poinsettias now come in various bracts due to hybridising, the latest colours are pink, crimson, cream and white besides this, there are double varieties. These plants grow very tall up to three and a half metres but for Christmas displays there are dwarf poinsettia and miniature varieties that are for sale here in nurseries in Australia. Poinsettias don’t stay dwarf for ever, they are grown in pots and forced to flower before Christmas time. They are available for you to buy in nurseries 6 weeks before Christmas. The traditional christmas flowers are usually grown around a foot high or less. They are grown especially for christmas decorations, nurseries stock them for your home if you wish to buy them. If you want to grow a real dwarf poinsettia you could create a bonsai poinsettia.

Growing Poinsettias From Cuttings

Taking cuttings is easy poinsettias are easy to propagate, take cuttings about 15cm or three leaf nodes, the cuttings should be a soft wood growing tip these can be taken in September dip them in hormone powder then plant the cuttings into sterile damp soil using equal parts of peat moss, perlite and sharp sand. Avoid saturating the growing media as this will bring on fungus diseases and will delay rooting the cuttings, it is best to mist them a few times a day this will stop the cuttings from wilting, the cuttings should have roots on them by 20 days. Maintain temperatures between 70 to 75F with 100% humidity as cuttings begin to root, and then lower humidity as roots develop. Do not over water. Use high calcium and magnesium fertiliser.

Poinsettia Care Australia

Learn how to make poinsettias bloom, steps to make the poinsettia bracts turn red – It is best to prune dwarf poinsettias to have a well shaped plant for next christmas the best way to do this is to prune all branches down to the second bud when the flowers have finished, new side shoots will develop at this time feed them with some complete fertiliser then repeat this again in mid March, doing this will make the plant bushy, remember to take your plant indoors as poinsettias are frost tender. To get your poinsettia perennial to re-flower it is best to keep the plant in the dark between 4pm and 8am each day from the end of September until the red shows in the bracts this will be early to mid December best to have a consistent temperature of 15 C to 20 C then you will have flowers again for Christmas.

Things to Remember

Poinsettias do need the right amount of light to bloom. The guidelines to trick a poinsettia plant into Christmas bloom are

  • You must change the light cycle as well as poinsettias must be in a humid environment, potted into slightly acid free draining soil
  • Without disturbance cover the poinsettia to provide 12 long hours of darkness at night
  • Bright light for the rest of the day for 2 months prior to flowering then the red flower bracts will happen.
  • Day time temperatures are allowed to vary between 75-80F. Night temperatures should stay above 60F throughout production. To intensify the colour of the bract, drop the night temperatures to 50F

This is how commercial growers do this by pulling the big thick covers over the poinsettia plants to make the greenhouse completely dark, then pull the covers off to let the day light in during the day.

  • In the home poinsettias should be placed in a sunny, cool draft free area with the right temperature, and the bracts should continue to be showy for 2 months
  • To select a poinsettia from a nursery choose the plant with closed green flowers in the centre, for reasons that eventually the green flowers, flower yellow and this is when the poinsettias red bracts start to fall off
  • Never feed poinsettias while they are in bloom
  • If poinsettias experience temperatures under 10 C they will drop their leaves

Tips for Christmas Floral Table Decorations with Poinsettias

In Australia, poinsettia plants, which are a popular garden shrub especially around the festive season, they can be harvested and placed in a cool room and away from direct heat before you decide on the design of your floral decoration. If you are growing poinsettias in a container or as a pot plant, make sure that these plants are well watered with a proper drainage system. Among all the Christmas table flowers decorating your Christmas table, no table decoration is going to be complete with at least one Christmas Poinsettia floral decoration. These red poinsettias are going to look amazingly good, when you add a little gypsophila, Babies Breath or Goodenia paniculata, commonly known as branched goodenia to the floral combination. The combination of red star shaped flowers interspersed with yellow or white small flowers can make an unusual Christmas table decoration.

Remember that the sticky white sap of the poinsettia can cause irritation when the bracts break off. So use gloves when you are decorating your table with these lovely red blooms. If your skin has got into direct contact with the sap, wash the affected area immediately. A good tip is when you cut the poinsettias it is best to place them in hot water till the water cools this will stop the sap from running everywhere.

Use your creativity to create things of beauty and joy for Christmas with poinsettias. You may want to add them to your Christmas floral wreaths too, hanging outside the door to welcome in the guests with Christmas cheer and joy.

Poinsettias like a cool environment, draft-free area. Water when needed and prune to keep your poinsettias in good shape, with proper care of poinsettias you can keep these lovely plants growing on and on year after year, this way they will give you many years of enjoyment. 

So what are you waiting for? Gather unto ye some Poinsettias and let the fun times roll.

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