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How to take care for this popular Christmas plant to enjoy well past the holidays
Native to Mexico, and known to the Aztecs, poinsettias once were a symbol of purity because of their vibrant colours. Nowadays, in many parts of the world, they are a symbol of
Christmas and the holiday season. Bermuda is not exempt from this
holiday tradition as each year Bermudians seek out this plant to use as
decoration in their homes and as gifts for family and friends.
Poinsettias remain to this day one of the most popular plants, despite
their short sale span of about six weeks and the common misconception
that they are highly poisonous and dangerous for children or pets. Not
only are poinsettias bright, colourful and perfect for decorating, they
are also fairly easy to take care of and can withstand pretty hard conditions given that they were originally a desert plant.
Amaral Farms in Devonshire grows hundreds of poinsettias every
year, ready to bloom and reveal their colours just in time for the
holidays. Farm owner Carlos Amaral gave us a tour of the greenhouse
where his poinsettias are getting ready to bloom, and gave us tips on
how to take care of a poinsettia to make sure you can enjoy your plant
past the holidays. The life span of this plant can be up to more than 10
years with proper care, so it is not necessary to buy a new one every year
if you take care of your poinsettia and make sure it blooms on time next
SHELTER YOUR PLANT: Your best bet is to pick an area in your
house or garden where the plant won’t be exposed to harsh winds, con-
stant breeze or even a draft. Coming into December, it is recommended
for the plant to be inside rather than outside. Although poinsettias are
pretty resistant to harsh conditions, exposure to a constant breeze and
cold air can easily damage them. Picking a somewhat sheltered area will
ensure that your plant won’t be damaged.
DON’T OVERWATER: Poinsettias don’t need a lot of water and
don’t like to be over-watered. Once a week should be sufficient. As a
general rule of thumb, touch the soil before and after watering your
poinsettia; if it feels damp, it is good enough.
MONITOR SUNLIGHT: As for sunlight, poinsettias require
different doses of sun depending on whether they have bloomed yet
or not. To get your poinsettia to bloom, make sure it is not getting
prolonged or intense sun exposure. An extended combination of half
shade, half sunlight will get poinsettias to bloom. Western sunlight
exposure—where the plant gets shade in the morning and then sunlight
around mid-day—is ideal. However, after the bloom, sunlight intensi-fies the colour, so you don’t have to worry about keeping your poinsettia
in the shade as much.
DON’T EAT IT: Lastly, contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are
not poisonous and are safe around kids and pets. Although as with
most plants you would have in your house, they are not meant for human consumption.
Being both vibrant and easy to take care of makes poinsettias the perfect addition to holiday decorating. In Bermuda, they will be available
for purchase at Amaral Farms as early as Thanksgiving weekend. But
don’t wait until Christmas week to get yours—you can enjoy it for the
entire season if you want to!
WRITTEN BY ALEJANDRA NARANJO
While red poinsettias are the most popular at Christmas time, marbled, pink and white varieties are also available.