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This festive plant originally comes from Central America but at Waitrose & Partners, all our poinsettias are British-grown. The large colourful bracts of the poinsettia are often mistaken for flower petals but are actually leaves. Whilst poinsettias can come in a range of colours, the red variety is the most popular for decorating homes at Christmas.
Poinsettias like warm conditions (ideally between 15 and 20°C) and plenty of daylight, so are happiest placed by a well-lit window. Misting your poinsettia regularly will simulate humidity and help to extend the flowering life of the plant.
To prevent leaves from wilting, never expose your poinsettia to draughts or temperatures below 12°C. Overwatering can also damage your plant, so make sure that your poinsettia is not sitting in water. It's best to water sparingly, with room temperature water and only when the surface of the soil feels dry.
Once the festive season is over you might be tempted to add your poinsettia to the compost heap but instead, you could turn it into a cut flower bouquet. Simply cut the stems just below the colourful leaves, dip the cut ends into boiling water to seal in the white sap, and then place in cold water.
Alternatively, you can try to get your poinsettia to re-bloom for next year. After the leaves have dropped, you'll need to water the plant less (about once a week) and relocate it to a cool, dark area. In April, cut back the stems to around 10cm (4in). By early May you can return the plant to a sunny spot and water well. It is also a good time to add fertiliser and repot if necessary.
Poinsettias require careful light control to make them bloom again, so from October onwards ensure the plant is in total darkness for 12 hours. You can do this by covering it with a black polythene bag or a box from early evening until the next morning. Make sure your poinsettia doesn't get too cold, a constant temperature of around 18°C is ideal. After around eight weeks your poinsettia should be back in bloom, ready to enjoy for another Christmas.