Christmas Star (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

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The Poinsettia - called in the botany Euphorbia pulcherrima - belongs with the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) to the few plants that bloom in winter. With magnificent red leaves, it is a decorative addition to the Advent wreath and are also very popular as a souvenir.

But the poinsettia needs a little care so that it can survive the year until the next Christmas. Because what many do not know: it is a perennial flowering plant.

The most popular of all potted plants in the dark, gloomy season finds in the winter months a lot of sales: up to 37 million plants are sold alone in Germany. Originally, the Poinsettia originates from Mexico, where it is also called a fire flower and grows excellently at a temperature of about 18° C.

The actual flowers are fake flowers. The attraction of the plants are the colored bracts. From a botanical point of view, they do not even bloom and support them only when attracting pollinators.

Poinsettias are available as a plant for the windowsill as well as bush, trunk, pyramid and traffic light. They are offered as light and dark-leafy varieties with red, pink, pink-white or white-colored bracts.

To avoid damage to the plants on the way home at very low outdoor temperatures, they must be well packed in paper. In the house, the plants should be bright at temperatures of 16 to 20 degrees. They must be protected from drafts and kept slightly moist at all times.

Dryness does not tolerate the stars so well, then they quickly turn the leaves. However, they do not like constantly wet feet.

Perennial Exotics - Can be used all year round

Actually, these exotics are perennial plants and grow in their home in Central and South America to larger shrubs with heights up to five meters zoom. Only a few owners maintain their poinsettia until the next season. Experimenting hobby breeders can grow with a little patience and a few simple professional tips a small, powerful Christmas star to the shrub size.

In spring, the poinsettia is cut back after flowering and repotted into fresh quality soil. The poinsettia needs little water in its summer break. Fingerprint before using and use stale, low-calcium water. Then drain well so that the roots do not rot. Fertilize about every one to two weeks. In summer, a bright, not too hot outdoor location is ideal.

Bring in and fertilize in early autumn

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In early autumn, before the first night frost, the poinsettia wanders into the room. Then, with the help of a little trick, he can be brought back to "glowing". The plant needs an extreme change of light and heat in autumn. About every 12 hours, so that the bracts discolour until Christmas, the poinsettia should be completely dark at night; during the day in the bright sunlight.

Above all, exotic winterblüten need the right substrate and a good fertilizer. Quality substrates contain immediately soluble nutrient salts, have a high clay content and long-term fertilizer. In plants in flower pots and pots, this preserves the structural stability of the root ball, so that the need-based supply works better. On the other hand, cheap soil silts up and permanently salts and damages sensitive plant roots.

Multiply poinsettias

The timing of cuttings propagation is crucial. The sooner the Poinsettia come into the ground, the more time they have to grow and grow up. At the beginning of May, when we are thinking of vacationing in the sunny South, the first unrooted cuttings begin the reverse journey. Mother plantations of German breeders are growing consistently in sunny countries like Spain, Portugal or Kenya.

The shoot tips of the mother plants provide the cuttings, which are about 5 cm long and have two to three strong leaves. So they have enough power to safely form new roots. Put in pots or culture plates and cultivated under high humidity, this happened within four weeks. In addition to the fine, white roots, up to five vigorous leaves adorn the plantlets.

The right cut

The early cuttings grow into stems, pyramids or columns. In order to get the right shape, it is trimmed, i. the shoot tips are cut off. This not only lays the foundation for the later form, it also forces the plant to branch out more. Trunks with dense multi-faceted crowns are usually trimmed twice. A sense of proportion is required so that the shape becomes uniform.

Strong-growing varieties such as the lively red "Coco Red", the white "Regina" or the distinctive light-dark pink "Monet Twilight" are particularly suitable for trunks or pyramids.

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