Poinsettia (the most beautiful euphorbia), or the Christmas star, has recently been a very popular house plant for winter holidays. Nothing pleases the eye during the winter cold, during a period when there are so few plants blooming, like beautiful inflorescences of the “Christmas star”. Poinsettia is a perfect find that can serve as a table decoration, or a decorative plant, which will undoubtedly stand out among other indoor flowers in the winter. Seeing once this "Christmas miracle" from a friend on New Year's Eve, the next week she rushed to buy it. For several years, poinsettia has been adorning our New Year's holidays.
Traditions associated with this plant came to us from Europe, but now these beauties appear in abundance in our stores at the beginning of winter. Poinsettias deservedly enjoy the love of their owners, primarily for longevity (most of them live and retain decorative attractiveness for many years), unpretentiousness and originality or the beauty of their appearance.
Poinsettia, Latin - Eupohorbia pulherrima, folk - Euphorbia most beautiful, Christmas star. The evergreen shrub of the family Euphorbia (Euphorbia) hails from the tropical zone of Mexico and Central America.
The most beautiful euphorbia or poinsettia - was named the Star of Bethlehem in honor of the fact that it blooms colorfully on Catholic Christmas. It has bright green tender large leaves, the leaves located under the inflorescences in some varieties are bright red, in others pink or white, the flowers themselves are small.
Poinsettia - shrubs up to 1.2-3 m tall, the stem is simple and branching. The branches are thick and bare. The leaves are oblong-oval, tapered at the base, pointed at the apex, notched-lobed, glabrous or pubescent. Poinsettia flowers are collected in the form of a socket; small flower bedspreads. Bracts densely located at the top of shoots, lanceolate, whole-red or notched-lobed, bright blood-red (create decorativeness to the plant).
There are varieties of poinsettia with red, white, pink, apricot, two-tone bracts.
Poinsettia is transplanted annually in the spring (usually in April-May). In March, 1/3 of the stems are cut off (leaving 3-5 of the strongest buds on the stem) and put poinsettia on a sunny window in a warm room. Watered with slightly heated water. When leaves appear, the plant is transplanted into a pot, slightly larger than the previous one.
The substrate is slightly acidic (pH about 6). It can be composed of clay-turf, leaf, peat soil and sand in a ratio of 3: 2: 1: 1. Good drainage is needed. After transplanting, the plant is placed in a warm place (about 20 ° C) and begins to be abundantly watered and sprayed.
Soon, new shoots will begin to appear on the poinsettia bush. Only a few (5-6 strongest) shoots should be left, and the rest removed. Cropped shoots can be used as cuttings for plant propagation.
This type of milkweed needs a sunny place, but in the summer during the hottest hours it will need shading. It is watered abundantly in summer, as the top layer of the substrate dries.
From the end of September it is necessary to maintain the plant lighting regimen: poinsettia should be carried out in the dark 12-14 hours a day. You can cover the poinsettia with a dark plastic bag and take it off only in the morning, or you can just put the pot in a dark place. Do this for 8 weeks, and then return the poinsettia to normal care.
After flowering, poinsettia is thrown away by many, but if desired (if you have enviable patience and perseverance) it can be made to bloom more than once. Watering is gradually reduced when the leaves fall, all the stems are cut at a height of 10-12 cm from the soil. The pot is cleaned in a cool dark place and is hardly watered, a period of rest sets in. It is necessary for the plant to relax and bloom in a year again.
Conditions for growing poinsettia
The temperature is moderate, in the summer they are kept at + 20..25 ° C. In winter, the dormant period at a temperature of about +16 ° C, a minimum of + 10..12 ° C.
Poinsettia needs bright lighting in both winter and summer. Milkweeds love a lot of light, but they need to be accustomed to the direct sun in spring and summer, so that there are no burns left. The best place for milkweed is the windowsill of the south or southeast window. Make sure that there is enough lighting in winter.
Milkweeds are resistant to dry air, but regular spraying with warm water is very beneficial.
Poinsettia prefers moderate watering in spring and summer, about twice a week, from autumn it is better to reduce watering, and rarely in winter when it is kept cool. Succulent species, for example, are watered about once a month in winter. Water for irrigation is used soft, room temperature. During the period of growth and flowering, the soil in milkweed should not dry out completely.
During the period of growth and flowering of poinsettias, they are fed with a special fertilizer for indoor plants, feeding every two weeks. For flowering species of milkweed, potash fertilizers are used; for non-flowering species, fertilizers for cacti can be used.
Poinsettia has a pronounced dormant period. When the leaves fall off, cut the stems 10 cm above the soil level and place the pot in a cool, shady place. At this time, it is necessary to sharply limit watering. But in early May, the plant is transshipped into a slightly larger pot and watering begins until shoots appear.
The extra shoots of poinsettia are removed, leaving only 3-4 of the strongest. Also regularly fed. Since the end of September it is important to maintain the lighting mode.
Soil - 1 part of turf, 1 part of leaf, 1 part of peat land, 1 part of sand and brick chips. Young plants are transplanted annually or a year later, old ones - after two to three years.
Poinsettia should be fed every 2 weeks from spring to autumn with full mineral fertilizer of usual concentration. During the period of growth and flowering, it is fed with a special fertilizer for indoor plants every two weeks. For flowering species, potash fertilizers are used; for non-flowering species, fertilizers for cacti can be used.
Poinsettia is propagated by apical stem cuttings in the summer. Cutting the stalk with 4-5 internodes, remove the lower leaves and place it for 15-20 minutes in very warm water. If you do not rinse, the milky juice will clog the blood vessels, and the stalk, most likely, will not take root. It is advised to dry in the air, and sprinkle slices on the mother plant with crushed coal. Then the cuttings are placed in a wet mixture of sand and peat, thoroughly deepened and covered with a film, and set in a warm place (up to 24 ° C). It can also be rooted in opaque dishes in plain water.
After rooting, the young shoots of poinsettia are planted in a fertile soil mixture consisting of equal parts of leafy, soddy ground, peat and sand. In the pot they make good drainage. It is preferable to plant 3-5 plants in one pot to get a lush beautiful bush. So, without much effort, in winter you can get your own bouquet of glowing "Christmas stars".
Poinsettia diseases and pests
Greater harm to poinsettia is caused by the insects, covering the leaves with honey dew. Due to excessive waterlogging of the soil or insufficient watering, leaf withering or even falling off can occur. Leaves may suddenly fall without signs of wilting in a draft or when exposed to too low a temperature. With insufficient lighting, the leaves fade and fall.
With hot and too dry air in the room, the edges of the poinsettia leaves turn yellow or brown, the inflorescences fall off. Yellowing and drying of the leaves and even the death of the plant is a sign of damage by a spider mite. Thrips cause the appearance of oblong wavy spots on the leaves and their folding.