Poinsettias are the ultimate Christmas flower. Known as the Christmas Star in much of Europe and in Mexico where it originates, Euphorbia pulcherrima (meaning very beautiful, by the way) is sold by the million in flower shops, nurseries and garden centres. You cannot move for poinsettia at this time of year! And with a little creativity and tender loving care, the poinsettia reveals itself to be a remarkable and versatile plant.
The Tender Loving Care Bit
When you understand what goes into growing poinsettia, you have an understanding of how to handle them. The plants you see in November or December will have started as small rooted cuttings in about July. From then on, they will have been pampered by expert nurserymen: kept at a cosy 16-18C; watered to a carefully monitored regime; and grown in complete darkness for 12 hours a day in order to bring out their colour.
So you will see that keeping your poinsettia at a constant 14-18C and out of drafts is essential to keep this cossetted plant at its very best over the Christmas period. Don't keep them in a cold shop, and do ensure that they are well protected against the cold on their way to and from your workspace. You'll find that Evergreen keep their poinsettia in cardboard boxes, protected from the Flower Market chill. Water the poinsettias well but don't let their roots sit in water, and allow them to dry out between applications. And that's all there is to a happy poinsettia!
The Creative Bit
Your design flair adds value to a poinsettia sale. Leave the poinsettia-in-plastic-pot sales to the supermarkets and get creative. Remember that red is just the beginning with poinsettia: you can find them in shades of white, pink, apricot or with marbled or flecked patterns.
The EU-funded Stars for Europe campaign has dozens of ideas for primping poinsettia at www.christmas-star.info and we've selected some of our favourites from this year's new designs.
Starting simply, wrap the pot in hessian and tie with twine for a natural gift or pot them up in attractive glass or ceramic pots, dress with decorative ribbon and line them up Three in a Row.
You can layer pots of poinsettia on a tiered plant display stand to create a Christmas Tree of Poinsettia with presents around the base or group a few plants together in an urn for a dramatic display of colour.
The fashionable Tiny Tot poinsettias make cute place settings, chair backs or fillers for the pockets of Advent calendars. Or water them well and wire the pots onto the branches of your traditional Christmas tree as a fresh tree decoration so that only the coloured bracts are visible. Charlotte Slade of Jane Packer says that whilst the poinsettia will eventually start to drop their leaves, they will do so from the bottom up, so that it will not spoil the dramatic effect.
Making the Cut: Poinsettia as Cut Flowers
Did you know that cut poinsettia last for up to two weeks in water? Most standard poinsettia carry four or more bracts, making them very cost-effective to snip and use as cut flowers.
How to prep poinsettia for cut flowers
- Cut the stem with a sharp knife
- Dip the stem immediately into hot water at 60C for 20 seconds to stop the flow of the milky white sap of the euphorbia
- Then dip straight into cold water for 10 seconds
And that's it!
In this fresh, modern table setting, cut poinsettias have been arranged with seasonal foliages in a glass vase, itself placed within a vase filled with masses of red and white bonbons. A perfect design for those with a sweet tooth!
In this table centre arrangement, the green leaves have been removed leaving just the coloured bracts (the flowers are the berry-like forms), which you insert into a wet floral foam ring.
Simply striking on their own in bud vases or in baubles with or without their green lower leaves...
Or in test tubes, interwoven with seasonal flowers and foliages in this dramatic statement piece of a modern Christmas.
We'd love to know how you are using poinsettia in your work. How do you add value to the classic Christmas poinsettia? You can write your comment in the box below, simply send an email to email@example.com, stating your company name and website address. Or if you prefer, share your images with us by tweeting to @MarketFlowers and using the hashtag #mypoinsettia.