Saturday 12th December is International Poinsettia Day. This day marks the death of Joel Robert Poinsett, the US diplomat and botanist, who introduced the poinsettia to the United States from Mexico in 1828.
Poinsettias are as much a Christmas classic as the Christmas tree itself, and are known as ‘Christmas Stars’ in much of the world. In 2014, the poinsettia was the best-selling houseplant after the year-round orchid.
Poinsettias are often disposed of once they start to fade, but with a little care, you can keep them all year and the bracts will colour up again the following year. They need a bright, but filtered light, away from strong sun and draughts, with a minimum temperature of 12°C. You need to water poinsettias sparingly as overwatering can damage them. Only water when the surface of the compost has begun to dry out. The flowering life of plants is extended by humidity, so mist plants regularly. Feed monthly with a low nitrogen, high potassium fertiliser.