The Euphorbia Pulcherrima, Christmas Flower, Poinsettia, Poinsettia, is one of the most popular plants that can be seen in our flower shops, especially in the months of Christmas, December / January and being a clear protagonist of the home and shops for its spectacular look .
It has many common names depending on the geographical location. Commonly known as Christmas Eve in Mexico, Christmas Flower in Venezuela and Colombia, Corona del Inca and Flor del Inca in Chile and Peru, Easter Flower and Christmas Flower in the Northern Hemisphere, Federal Star in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, Pastor in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
In the USA it is called Poinsettia, in honor of Joel Roberts Poinsett, first American ambassador in Mexico, who introduced her to his country in 1825.
Origin of the Euphorbia Pulcherrima
Native of the Central America and particularly of the south-east of Mexico and very distributed by center and Suramérica. Pulcherrima means, “the most beautiful”.
Europe arrived in 1834, but its cultivation did not extend until the beginning of the 19th century, when German cultivators obtained resistant hybrids.
Characteristics and Care of Euphorbia Pulcherrima
The Christmas Flower, Poinsettia, is a shrub with evergreen leaves that can reach up to 5 meters high in warm and well acclimatized areas for the plant.
It is a shrubby plant, with a temperate – warm climate and, under normal conditions, in a garden, it can perfectly reach 3 meters in height.
The Poinsettia is an indoor plant, as such. although in warm months you can live outdoors, with sunny areas but no direct sun.
The outside temperature should not fall below 5ºC, as it does not withstand low temperatures.
The average temperature should not fall between 12 and 20ºC. In the growing season, irrigation must keep it moist.
After the flowering and until the following spring, when it is at rest, the risks must be more scarce.
Prune drastically after withering of the last flowers and leaves about 20 cm high.
This beautiful plant has its own characteristic and is that of having huge bracts (modified leaves) very attractive and colored during its flowering. Its stems are cylindrical and hollow.
Latex is toxic and can cause irritation. Its leaves are large and petiolated.
As an indoor plant, it can reach a height of up to one meter, being able to exceed this height if the conditions are optimal.
The leaves of the Christmas flower are simple, arranged alternately, from oval to elliptical.
The dazzling bracts that form the upper part of the plant, red, pink, greenish white or yellowish white are often mistaken for petals.
The petioles are long and thin, whose length is 12 to 20 cm.
Our Christmas Flower, is characterized by having only one female flower without petals or sepals, surrounded by individual male flowers.
The leaves of the Poinsettia are very poisonous and are deciduous, blooming from the end of autumn. It is the Christmas plant par excellence in all homes, since it lives its moment of splendor from December to January.
Its flowers are of little ornamental value.
How to water the Euphorbia Pulcherrima
The Easter flower as an indoor plant is delicate, it needs a lot of light, humidity, several weekly waterings, allowing the substrate to dry well between waterings and a temperature between 15 and 20ºC, avoiding sudden changes in temperature.
To favor environmental humidity it is advisable to place the plant on a plate with water and decorative pebbles.
Humidity is very important for this plant, if it is grown indoors it must be watered regularly avoiding placing it near heating sources.
Irrigation must be carried out directly on the substrate, without wetting the plant.
The key to watering properly, water down , ensure that the water is warm, putting the pot about 15 minutes in a bowl or dish with water and remove excess water that the plant has not absorbed.
With a couple of waterings per week is enough, letting the substrate dry .
Cultivated outdoors in warm areas, they must be protected from the winds.
How to fertilize Euphorbia Pulcherrima
The fertilizer must be made with compost in spring and summer.
Also, from spring to autumn, watering by adding a little liquid fertilizer (hydrogenated) every 10/15 and that would be enough.
To prune our Christmas Flower, perform a maintenance pruning in spring, once you have lost the colored bracts or modified leaves.
We will cut the stems to 10cm from their base, which can be used as tip cuttings, stem cuttings, to reproduce the plant.
!!! Attention, use gloves, since the sap, the latex, is poisonous.
For its reproduction by cuttings;
Covers the cut made with candle wax, or similar for pruning, to close the wound on the stem.
Change to a larger pot, plant it and place it in a cooler and drier place, to stimulate the buds.
In warm areas, it can be replanted in a garden so that it develops there like a bush.
In cold areas it is very difficult for the plant to thrive, although it is possible with much care and dedication.
What diseases can suffer?
There are different types of diseases that can affect our Poinsettia or Christmas Flower, among others and like the rest of the poinsetias, it is susceptible to fungal, bacterial and parasitic diseases.
The rotting of stems and roots : it appears as a blackening and therefore rotting of the base of the stem and the roots, by the excess of water, generally.
Gray mold or Botrytis : due to excess humidity in condensation, especially at night.
Bacteriosis : When high temperature and high humidity join, a bacterial infection can occur.
In the green stems stand longitudinal strips of watery appearance and in the leaves also aqueous spots.
In severe cases, the leaves fall and te plant dies.
Rust : Small black bumps appear (pustules), in that case tear them and burn them.
It can appear in humid and warm climates.
Chlorosis: This disease appears, yellowing due to lack of iron in the substrate.
If the environment is very dry, the red spider and the cottony cochineal may appear .
The pot transplant should be done in summer.
Getting the leaves to turn red is not an easy task for the fan since it is a natural phenomenon due to the amount of light it receives, so it is better to buy it at the time.
What pests can affect you?
The most usual is that they are some of the following:
And thrips Thrips , mealybugs , whiteflies , Pseudococcus (woodlice long tail similar to the cottony)
When does the poinsettia bloom?In the northern hemisphere, in December.
Are there only red poinsettias? No. It depends on the variety and there are more than 100.
Are the red leaves the flowers?No. In reality they are the bracts, transformed leaves, their flowers are like spheres called spines.
Why do they turn yellow and fall ?It is due to excess heat, dryness and too much darkness or lack of illumination. It should be watered more and sprayed regularly. Fertilize more frequently and place it in a more lighted area.
The whole plant is flaccid and weak?It is due to being exposed to strong air currents. Put her in a more sheltered area.
Why are the leaves sticky and deformed? is due to an attack of aphids , woodlice or greenfly. Pulverize systemic insecticide or with pyrethrum powder.
Pyrethrum : Biological insecticide obtained from pyrethrum or pyrethrum extract, from dried flowers of Chrysantemun (Pyretrum) Cinerariefolium from Kenya, characterized by its rapid action by contact and ingestion.
The pyrethrum is totally biodegradable and natural.
The sap is irritating to the skin and eyes, so we must wear gloves.