Poinsettia - Euphorbia pulcherrima

Poinsettia - Euphorbia pulcherrima

The Christmas Star

Who among us does not know the poinsettia, or rather, the Euphorbia Pulcherrima? None or almost. All of us, at least once, have bought this plant during the Christmas period, to give a gift to friends, relatives, parents or simply for ourselves to bring the classic symbol of Christmas into our homes, having this wonderful plant with us makes it even the Christmas atmosphere is more magical. During this period, there is no supermarket, shop, church, oratory or other environment that does not have a red, white or other colored poinsettia inside. A magnificent moment will then be if we enter a nursery, then here we will be fascinated by the huge amount of poinsettias of every color, shape and size, by the fantastic compositions created by expert hands and we will not be able to help but buy one.

Having made this introduction that came from the bottom of our hearts, we will now pass on to tell you, specifically, about the characteristics of this plant.

The poinsettia is grown for decorative-ornamental use and comes in various colors, from the classic bright red, to pink, to mottled and so on. This plant has its origin from Mexico where it grows spontaneously and can reach a height of four meters. It has a shrub-like development. In Italy the poinsettia is massively cultivated although, due to the increase in the cost of heating the various greenhouses, production has declined slightly, the main producers and growers of this plant are the Netherlands and the United States.

The plant

The two main characteristics of the poinsettia are to be a photoperiodic and short-day plant, this means that its flowering occurs in the winter period precisely because the days are of a shorter duration, but for it to be conspicuous it will need to stay several hours of the day in the dark. The ideal temperature for the poinsettia is between 14 and 22 ° C but it can withstand even lower values ​​as long as there are no frosts.

Inside the trunk and branches the poinsettia produces a substance similar to milk, called latex, it is particularly poisonous for cats and dogs and irritates human skin, causes itching, burning and, if ingested, causes vomiting. diarrhea and fainting, so you have to be careful if there are small children or animals in the house. The flower of the poinsettia is called cyathium and is composed of petals and sepals that form a sort of cup, it is yellow and surrounds it with a corolla composed of five bracts (more or less modified leaves from which the flower is born) of red color ( in some varieties this color can change). The poinsettia has many male flowers and only one female which, when fertilized, produces a fruit containing three seeds. Perhaps not everyone knows that it is given as a gift during the Christmas period because its maximum beauty reaches it on Christmas Eve, for this reason it was given this name by some Spanish missionaries.

Tips and curiosities

If you happen to receive a Christmas star as a gift or buy, immediately change the vase, immediately transplant it into a larger one, not by much, it would also be appropriate and preferable that it was made of terracotta. If your poinsettia does not bloom again the following year, you can always appreciate it for its beautiful dark green leaves and you can combine it with other plants to form pleasant compositions. To quote a bit of history, the poinsettia was introduced to America for the first time by Poinsett, the American ambassador, he was so impressed by the beauty of the Mexican hills adorned with magnificent colors that were donated by these plants, that he decided to import it in their own country where, initially, it was cultivated mainly as a cut flower to offer to the ladies, later it was also adopted a cultivation in pot. Other names of the poinsettia, depending on the country, can be: Mexican flame leaf, Christmas star, Winter rose, Noche Buena.

Useful Tips

As we explained before, it is not the flowers but the bracts that have different colors, the most widespread and purchased one is bright red; to keep the splendid red of our Christmas star, we must follow some special precautions. For example, when the red bracts have fallen, it will be necessary to cut the stems to a length of about ten centimeters from the base and, to prevent the milky substance from escaping, it will be dabbed with ash. At this stage, the poinsettia must have dry soil and should be placed in an area full of light that does not have too high a temperature. When the plant has its vegetative restart, usually in May, it will be repotted in a slightly larger pot otherwise it will develop more stems than leaves and bracts; the soil must be composed of slightly acidic and soft peat. From this period until September, the poinsettia will need a supply of liquid fertilizer rich in phosphorus and potash, this operation must be done twice a month. During the winter period until November, the plant will be placed in a dark place for about 13-15 hours and, in the part of the day with hours of light, it will be placed in a bright area.

Soil and repotting

The poinsettia prefers a light and slightly acidic soil, consisting of peat, expanded clay and organic matter. The repotting operation must be done in the spring period when the plant resumes its growth, as we said earlier, the pot must not be much larger than the previous one, at most twenty centimeters in diameter. It is advisable to place the poinsettia in a place that is ventilated, but avoiding exposing it to too strong and particularly cold air currents. When you see the bracts dry up and fall, follow the advice given in the paragraph "useful tips".


The poinsettia multiplies by cuttings.

The multiplication operation must be carried out in the spring period by taking cuttings up to twenty centimeters long from the mother plant and putting them in a rhizogenic powder to favor their rooting, then cover the container with the cuttings with plastic or glass, so that it will be maintained the ideal temperature of about great winds; when the cuttings have rooted you will have to remove the plastic and can be transferred to pots with a diameter of about ten to twelve centimeters containing some acidic earth composed of peat and sand, when they have grown, usually after about a month, they will go transplanted into larger pots.

Topping and Brachization

Some unnecessary operations that can be carried out on the poinsettia are topping and brachization. The first can be done to replace the second after about 15-20 after the invasion operation, but never beyond the middle of September. The brachization, which is also not essential, is done to give a more harmonious and more marketable shape to the plant.

Fertilization and watering

As mentioned in the previous paragraphs, the poinsettia must be fertilized by the resumption of growth with a frequency of twice a month.

As far as watering is concerned, water stagnation must be avoided and water should only be added when the soil has almost dried, it is advisable to never wet the foliage of the plant, especially in the summer, as there would be a danger of burns.

Diseases and Parasites

At this point of our article, we will have understood and understood the main characteristics of our plant, the most suitable soil for it, the care, etc., now we will talk about any diseases and parasites that can attack the plant that symbolizes our magical Christmas.

For example, if the leaves turn yellow with the consequent fall, this will mean that in the place where we have placed the plant there is not enough air exchange, it will need to be moved immediately to a more suitable place.

The insects that attack this plant the most are whiteflies.

If the plant has suffered an attack from mites such as spider mites, it will have discolored round-shaped areas.

The brown cochineal is one of the parasites that affect the poinsettia, it acts by forming dark spots on the underside of the leaves, as you already know, to eliminate this annoying enemy a cotton swab soaked in alcohol will suffice, in the case of an adult plant and robust, it will be possible to proceed with the administration of pesticides.

Other diseases

In one of the previous paragraphs we described the function of the brachizing treatment, if it is carried out in a too massive way the leaves will begin to have yellowed outlines.

Surely you will have well understood what the bracts are, here, if these and the leaves had discolored parts and were brought to the fall, it would be a symptom of root rot; this unpleasant inconvenience is caused by a fungus that develops due to the excessive intake of water during watering. It is necessary to eliminate the roots that have rotted and to supply less water to the plant.

Then we have another type of rot, that of the stem, it attacks stems and branches making them dark and shriveled and can lead the plant to death.

Gray mold is caused by a fungus that proliferates in the presence of excessive humidity, the leaves become dark and have a gray mold.

Another fungus that can attack this plant is Botritis, it manifests itself with gray spots on the leaves which, when touched, crumble. To combat this fungus, specific products must be used. Collar disease, also caused by fungi, leads the plant to decay.

Could aphids be missing from the list of enemy parasites? No! In fact, these lice can also infest this plant, eradicate them with the use of pesticides.

Poinsettia poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima): new cultivars, blue bracts, make it bloom again.

I don't buy it as many traditionally do, but I think poinsettias are really beautiful.

The cultivars that are on the market today are many and truly wonderful.
There are orange, yellow, pink, white. in a thousand shades and with more or less large brates and different shapes.

Photo © The Rocketeer Kevin Trotman

I always hope, however, that they will put an end to the artificial manipulation of poinsettias - blue poinsettias (colored with systemic dye or directly on the bracts), as they do for carnations and blue roses.

Photo © The Rocketeer Kevin Trotman

Unfortunately, these plants also make me sad if, like Christmas trees, they become a symbol of a culture that is divorced from plants and nature.

Instead, the plant can bloom again, but it is photo sensitive. For the poinsettia to bloom it must be given 14 hours of total darkness a day for about 6-8 weeks for the colored bracts to form.

When all danger of frost has passed, it can also be flared and planted outdoors in the open ground with at least 4 hours of sunshine per day (exposure to the sun must be gradual). Most poinsettias respond beautifully to such treatment. In addition you can make cuttings this summer of 10-12 cm in length, they take root very easily.

An excellent idea is to continue "pinching" the tips, trimming them, pruning them all year round until September.

This triggers bushier growth, otherwise they tend to grow tall and lanky, their stems become brittle and break easily

Bring the new plants and mother plant indoors before the frost and then subject them to the short days from October 1st to start leaf coloring. They must be kept at a temperature not lower than 18 ° C and not higher than 25-30 ° C. Put it in a dark closet from 5 to 6 pm until 7 or 8 every day (the top leaves should start to color in late November).
Any interruption of the program of this dark period can prevent the formation of buds.

If the Poinsettia then has an uneven color, the cause is often a bad temperature uniformity due to poor air circulation.
A good general purpose liquid fertilizer should be applied once a month. Leave to dry between irrigations.

Some poinsettia cultivars - (Euphorbia pulcherrima):

'Strawberries N 'Cream' - Photo © Lisa Hallett Taylor

'Avantgarde Marble' - Photo © miss_leslie Leslie Johnston

'Cortez Burgundy' - Photo © miss_leslie Leslie Johnston

'Maren' - Photo © miss_leslie Leslie Johnston

'Sonora White Glitter' - Photo © catface3

'Snow White' - Photo © catface3

'Ice Punch' - Photo © Bacon And Tofu Colleen and Sat Garcia

Winter Rose 'Marble' - Photo © Lisa Hallett Taylor

In their natural habitat, Central America and Mexico, and in areas that do not experience frost, poinsettias are perennial, and can grow up to 3 to 4 feet tall, small trees.

Care of the Euphorbia pulcherrima or Poinsettia plant

It is known by the vulgar names of: Poinsettia, Poinsettia, Poinsettia, Poinsettia, Christmas Eve or Inca crown.

It belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae . It is a species of shrub of Mexican origin. It arrived in Europe in 1834, but its cultivation did not expand until the early nineteenth century, when German growers obtained resistant hybrids.

The poinsettia, in its place of origin, is an evergreen bush which can reach 2 meters in height, in our latitudes generally does not exceed half a meter. The leaves are large, lanceolate or oval, slightly serrated in both cases. The flowers they have little decorative value, but the large red leaves that surround them give the plant its attractive appearance. They can be red, white or pink.

Poinsettia is the typical house plant , although it can live outdoors during the summer. It should be located in light but not in direct sunlight.

The temperature it must not drop below 12-20 ° C. During the growing season, irrigation should keep it moist. Once flowering is complete and until the following spring, when it is at rest, watering should be less frequent. After the last flowers have wilted, they need to be pruned drastically, leaving them at a height of 15-20 cm.

The terrain it will be the normal indoor soil sold in garden centers. it must be transplanted every two years. From spring to autumn, water with a fertilizer rich in salt every 15 days.

Should not be near heat sources, stoves, radiators, etc. and must not be in drafts.

It is the Christmas plant par excellence because it experiences its moment of splendor from December to January. It replaced black hellebore as a Christmas plant.

If the environment is very dry, the red spider mite may appear and the flake of cotton . When you need to change the vase, do it in the summer. Turning the leaves red is not an easy task for the amateur because it is a natural phenomenon due to the amount of light it receives (photoperiodism), so it is best to buy it on time.

The poinsettia is multiplied by for cutting in summer.

The Christmas star or Euphorbia pulcherrima

The real flowers of Euphorbia pulcherrima.

Christmas is almost upon us and many of us will receive, or have already received, a "Christmas Star”As a gift from friends and relatives. Every year thousands of these plants are sold, given away and then, alas, thrown away.

It also happens that, while wanting to preserve the plant, it is not possible to make it bloom again or even to make it survive. Here, then, is an article on how to grow these beautiful plants is needed.

L'Euphorbia pulcherrima, also called Christmas Star or Poinsettia, is a perennial, shrubby plant, native to Mexico. In nature it reaches even four meters in height.

The leaves they are dark green, rather large and broad. The plant is evergreen in nature. In our climates, however, it can happen that it loses its leaves as a result of cold shocks.

THE flowers, sayings ciazi, are small green or yellow buttons, grouped in heads of four to eight flowers. The flower heads are surrounded by a crown of five bracts colored, usually red, but also pink,

Variety of Euphorbia pulcherrima with multicolored bracts.

white or multicolored. A few years ago the news of obtaining a blue variety came out in the specialized press. Nothing followed the news and I have never been able to find any other trace of this phantom blue Christmas star.

The beauty of the plant is therefore given by the bracts, leaves transformed with the function of attracting pollinating insects.

There cultivation Poinsettia requires few, but necessary, precautions. The first of these measures is to prevent the plant from sudden changes in temperature and drafts. The plants that are purchased in this period are young specimens (they are a few months old) and have been grown in greenhouses. They therefore come from a warm and humid environment. The sale, the transport, the days spent walking around in shops, supermarkets and means of transport, are a great stress for the plant. Therefore, place your specimen in a bright, warm and draft-free place. However, avoid direct sun and places too close to heat sources such as heaters and stoves.

Variety of Euphorbia pulcherrima with white bracts.

It can happen that the plant sheds some leaves (sometimes all). You don't have to worry excessively. The fall of the leaves is in fact the first symptom of suffering with which the Christmas star tells us that something is wrong. The stress of travel and changing environments (from the humid heat of the greenhouse to the dry heat of the apartments) can cause leaf shedding. The same thing can be said for cold shocks, drafts or other cultivation errors. If you follow the brief rules outlined here you will have no problems and you just have to wait for the plant to recover.

Excess humidity also causes Poinsettia suffering. So water carefully. Check the soil often. When you find it dry you will wet it abundantly, making sure that all the soil in the pot is wet. You will then wait for the soil to dry completely again before wetting again. Avoid leaving water in the saucer (it could generate root rot) and use water that is not too cold. In this regard, you can leave the tap water to rest for an hour or more before using it, so that it is at room temperature.

In regions with a milder climate, you can think of growing the poinsettia even outside, on the balcony or perhaps even in the garden. Don't put it on

Variety of Euphorbia pulcherrima with pink bracts.

immediately outside as soon as bought though. Remember that it comes from a greenhouse and that it does not tolerate sudden changes in temperature. You can put it outside in the spring and then leave it outside. In the northern regions, on the other hand, you will have to put it back inside in October.

In spring, when you put the plant outside, it will also be advisable to repot. Transplant it into a pot two to four centimeters wider than the one where it is. Do not put it in a vase that is too large. If the container is much larger than the root ball of the plant, the soil takes too long to dry and can make the roots suffer.

The soil must be soft and well draining. Feel free to use a universal soil peaty-based, perhaps mixing it with sand sifted by a mason in the ratio of three parts of soil and one of sand. If you use pure peat instead, mix one part of sand and one part of peat.

To have good vegetation it will be necessary fertilize our Christmas star with an NPK liquid fertilizer for green plants every fortnight during the summer. In winter you can suspend fertilizing or do, at most, one every month and a half. It is important that the fertilizer is for green plants and not for flowering plants. It must have nitrogen as the predominant element (the first number of those indicated on the label, which indicates the quantity of nitrogen, must be the highest) since the bracts are leaves and not petals and to make the leaves grow you need, in fact, the 'nitrogen.

Variety of Euphorbia pulcherrima with red bracts.

The flowering of the poinsettia is not a foregone conclusion. I have repeatedly heard of people who had beautiful specimens of Poinsettia, but could not make it bloom.

Euphorbia pulcherrima is a plant short day: that is, he understands that the time has come to blossom from the diminishing hours of light. When the night exceeds a certain duration, the plant starts the flower induction and within eight weeks it will produce colored flowers and bracts. With us the induction starts around October and then the plants bloom in time for Christmas. In homes, however, the exposure of plants to artificial light prevents flower induction. This is why poinsettias do not usually bloom!

A few years ago, in Brianza, a nurseryman suffered serious economic damage due to this phenomenon. He had decided to grow poinsettias, which he had never grown, so as not to leave the greenhouse unproductive during the winter. However, he had not considered the lights of the street adjacent to the greenhouse. Only half

Euphorbia pulcherrima in a garden.

some plants flourished. Those closest to the road in fact did not flower due to the light of the street lamps!

On the contrary, there are places where the poinsettia is constantly in bloom. To Addis Ababa, capital ofEthiopia, these plants are used on the avenues and are always in bloom. At those latitudes, in fact, the night always lasts enough hours to induce the plants to flower.

If you want to make your specimens bloom, therefore, you must place them in a dark place. It is necessary that the hours of light are not more than eight and that the period of darkness is not interrupted even for a moment. It is enough to turn on the light for a short time to start the count of hours of darkness! Therefore, place the plant in a dark room for a few days and within a couple of months you will have flowering.

There reproduction Poinsettia is practiced by cutting. Cut a young twig just below a knot and remove the leaves, leaving only a couple of them. If they are too big you can cut them in half. Then plant the cutting in a pot with a very draining substrate (three parts of sifted sand and one of universal soil). Then keep the vase in a warm and sheltered place. The soil must be warm in order to favor the emission of roots. For greater safety, you can apply powdered rooting hormones to the cut, which speed up the process and increase the chances of success.

Treat the poinsettia from October to November

In the early cold, bring back the poinsettia in home. 8 hours of light a day are enough because yes tinga in a hurry to red, pink or white. In these months, occasionally add more to the water of the fertilizer, but for indoor flowering plants. Your poinsettia is now ready to return to its Christmas "shoes".


Christmas time: original ideas for decorating the house and the Christmas tree!

How to cure and how to make the poinsettia bloom again: Calendar

To do it flourish again in the Christmas period it is good to follow some basic rules:

  1. towards July, when the plant loses its colored leaves, cut the stems at a variable height from 10 to 30 cm from the base, depending on the overall size of the plant, the branches should generally be shortened by about one third of their length.
  2. Water the plant less frequently.
  3. After about ten days from pruning start regularly administering fertilizer for green plants.
  4. During the summer rest also keep it outside in a semi-shady place and water it sporadically and fertilize it once a month.
  5. When the outside temperature drops below 15 °, the plant must be brought back inside the house.
  6. In September until November, the poinsettia should be transferred to a dark place, watered regularly every week and every 15 days fertilized with a fertilizer for flowering plants rich in potassium (K) and phosphorus (P).
  7. In December the Poinsettia is placed in a bright area of ​​the house but not in direct sunlight.
  8. For Christmas you will see that the bracts from green to red, yellow or pink and yellow flowers.

Things to know

The presence of light prevents the poinsettia from blooming again. Flowering is triggered by the decrease in the hours of light compared to those of darkness.


Scientific name: Euphorbia pulcherrima

Common name: Poinsettia, Poinsettia

Family: Euphorbiaceae

Origin: Mexico

Description: Branched shrub that in the apartment does not exceed one meter in height, but which in nature is also found in the form of a sapling over 3-4 meters. It has bracts (false leaves) at the top of the branches that change color near the flowering and that crown small yellow flowers (all male and one central female). The stems, delicate and hollow, secrete a white latex, caustic and poisonous if ingested.It is a photoperiodic plant, i.e. influenced by the duration of the day and the light: it blooms only when the hours of darkness far exceed the hours of light (maximum 8 hours of light).

Cultivation technique: It lives well between 14 and 22 degrees, conditions that are found in the apartment during the winter. At home it also tolerates the dry heat conditions typical of condominiums, it cannot tolerate frosts and only in Southern Italy can it be outside in a sheltered and well exposed garden. During the summer it is possible to keep it outdoors in a partial shade position, preferably with the morning sun.
It does not tolerate stale air, so it is important to ventilate the room where it is positioned, paying attention to cold air currents. The root system is very developed and therefore requires a soil that is always moist, but not soaked. The frequency of irrigation depends on the environmental conditions of the house and on average it can be considered a couple of times a week. It is not convenient to wet from the saucer because generally the water is unable to rise to the full size of the pot. Ideal is irrigation by immersion.

At the end of winter (around March) the red bracts dry up and fall off, it is advisable to prune the branches by about a third or in any case shorten them assuming the growth of new branches for the following year. After pruning, watering must be drastically reduced and it is resumed more assiduously when the plant is taken outside (in the second half of April), stimulating the vegetative restart even with fertilizations, especially in summer.

N.B. During pruning, pay attention to the white (caustic) latex contained in the leaves and branches. It is better to wear gloves. Latex itself can be annoying for pets.

The time of purchase:
It is important, when buying the poinsettia, to check the development stage of the flowers.

Video: Poinsettias for Kids