Learn the secrets of poinsettias to help them thrive

Shop-bought poinsettias produce a stunning display of crimson, and these tropical plants can be coaxed into an encore performance if you have the patience, says Clare Wilson


7 December 2022

DNPBE6 The field of red poinsettias being grown for Christmas in Cambridgeshire.


EVERY December, I buy as many poinsettia houseplants as I have room for in my home. These tropical plants, natives of Central America, give a stunning red display that, for many, is a perfect living Christmas decoration.

Each bloom of a poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is technically an inflorescence rather than a flower, and its “petals” are actually modified leaves called bracts, which turn scarlet in autumn. The real flowers are unimpressively tiny yellow balls at the centre of each cluster.

In its natural state, this shrub is a straggly monster that can reach 3 metres tall. The poinsettias that we …

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