Christmas plant care: [Soil, Humidity, Pruning and Problems]

What characteristics does the Christmas plant have?

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The Christmas plant or Flor de Pascua is a spectacle of nature belonging to the Euphorbiaceae family native to America, specifically from Mexico and part of Central America.

Their scientific name is Euphorbia pulcherrima, but they are also known internationally as poinsettias, after the American doctor Joel Robert Poinsett.

Poinsett introduced it to his land when he was serving as ambassador to Mexico in the 1820s, according to historical accounts that speak of his passion for botany.

It was precisely his love for plants that allowed him to take some seeds of this unique species to his homeland, in addition to establishing the tradition of giving a Christmas flower to his friends as a gesture of brotherhood at the most brilliant time of the year..

In this way, since 1991 this species has its national day in the United States every December 12, thanks to its velvety and showy flowers, very popular in houses because they are dressed in the favorite colors of the last month of the year: red and green.

Although at Christmas it acquires its maximum splendor, this plant can remain lively all year round, as long as the correct care is lavished on it, it will bloom several times, not only on December dates.

There are varieties with white, yellow or salmon-colored leaves. But more than leaves, they are actually bracts whose primary mission is to protect the true flowers, which are small and yellow. A well cared for Poinsettia can grow into a beautiful bush about 5 meters tall.

What soil needs does the Christmas plant have?

Although this species is seen much more indoors, the truth is that it does better outdoors, because when it is in flower it requires a lot of natural light and a stable climate, without frost, but neither with high temperatures. It does not get along well with intense cold or oppressive heat.

That is why it is very clear then to avoid having it inside the house in places close to the stove or heating. Apply a good liquid fertilizer to the irrigation water, about 3 months after transplanting it to a larger pot, after Christmas.

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And if you take it to a garden or terrace, you will also be giving it the opportunity to grow healthy, with good light. But it is worth saying that slow-release fertilizers are the ones that best suit it and foliar fertilizers should never be applied when the bracts are taking color.

How to make the Christmas plant grow strong and vigorous?

The first thing to do when you have a poinsettia or Christmas flower at home is to place it near a window, so that it receives indirect light. The second most important thing is to avoid cold drafts.

And it should not be exposed to changes or temperatures below 20ºC, because it will end up dying. That is why it is essential to protect it well, especially in those places where the winter season is strong.

Even though it needs light to stimulate its flower production, it is also true that the characteristic intense red of its notorious leaves is accentuated precisely when the plant is placed in periods of darkness that sometimes must exceed 8 continuous hours.

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A very important fact when buying it: you have to check the number of open yellow flowers, because the more numerous they are, the shorter the life of its beautiful red bracts. So specimens that still do not have flowers must be acquired. In this way, the life of the bracts will be greater.

If the following tips are taken literally, we can count on Christmas flowers during several seasons. In summary, it is convenient:

  1. Fertilize the plant with great care.
  2. Applying a pruning at the end of flowering also brings a lot of health.
  3. Irrigation must guarantee constant humidity, without exaggeration.
  4. You have to lavish a good dose of darkness on it, so that the flowers are very beautiful.
  5. Strict temperature control is vital, we should never expose it to less than 20ºC. The ambient humidity must also be controlled.
  6. Spring is ideal for transplanting.

What humidity does the Christmas plant need?

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Irrigation must guarantee permanent but not excessive humidity, so an excellent drainage system must be guaranteed in the pot where the Christmas flower lives.

It is not wise to add more water when the substrate still feels wet to the touch.

When it dries completely, it should receive a new dose of water, preventing puddles from forming. Immersion irrigation is an ideal technique for these plants.

To achieve this, simply place the plant in a bowl of water at room temperature for about 15 minutes. At the end of this period, the water that the plant did not absorb is removed.

Another good way to keep it constantly humid is to place a plate with water at the base of the pot, to which we will add some stones to raise it a little and thus prevent it from coming into direct contact with the roots.

What experts recommend in terms of irrigation frequency is to do about two per week at most. And as long as the substrate has dried completely. The ideal temperature is around 22ºC during the day and about 16ºC at night, beyond 25ºC it is very bad for the health of its splendid foliage.

That is why when having it at home, it is convenient to control the environmental temperature, preventing it from rising. Keeping it at around 22ºC is the best, as well as preventing the plant from receiving cold drafts or direct heat from the heater.

Dry environments due to heating feel really bad… The leaves dry up and fall. Do not forget it if you want your home to be happy for a long time. As we have already said, if the temperature drops below 10ºC, the Christmas Flower will be in trouble.

Is it necessary to prune the Christmas plant?

A control pruning is necessary if we observe that it has grown too much in the pot, but it must be done after the first flowering. Not before. Likewise, it is necessary to remove dry, stained or rotten stems and leaves.

How often should we prune the Christmas plant?

We can lower it about 10 cm if we appreciate that the flowers have begun to turn reddish black. That’s the expensive sign that the bloom is about to end. This way it will have new shoots and will surely bloom again just in time for next Christmas.

How to avoid pests and diseases of the Christmas plant?

One of the most common evils is that the tips of the leaves turn brown, dark or spots appear.

If it happens, it is because the water supply is most likely deficient. Overwatering is another mistake that can cost you your life, because the roots get fungus and rot quickly.

Blight is one of the typical diseases caused by Pectobacterium carotovorum, which causes rotting of the plant, as well as another type of rotting focused on stems and cuttings caused by Rhizoctonia or R. solani, which are often confused but are prevented with careful watering.

Rhizoctonia, for its part, triggers the appearance of brown lesions on the cutting, specifically in the area where it fits into the so-called cube of the branch. The leaves are still infected, but if the temperatures are high, then the situation worsens and the disease reaches all the foliage.

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Medallion and Pageant are highly effective fungicides. Another evil that has no season, can appear at any time of the year, is root rot caused by Pythium or Pythium aphanidermatum. Other times the fungus P. irregulare acts.

It manifests itself with the presence of brown tips on the roots, until the leaves turn yellow and wither. While the lower leaf cuttings soften, puff up and stain black. It is a typical disease of poor soils, very poorly aerated.

Exercising prevention tasks and regular controls at a cultural, biological and chemical level is the best way to keep the popular Christmas flower healthy.

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