The Christmas star
The poinsettia, also called poinsettia, is a shrub native to Mexico, where it grows abundantly in the wild, until it reaches large dimensions, around 2-3 meters in height. In our houses it remains spi-sized easily manageable in the apartment, and specimens of some years generally do not exceed the meter; it is an evergreen or deciduous plant; it produces a large dark green foliage and very small flowers, called ciazi: in fact the real flower of the Christmas stars is made up of small roundish buttons, usually green or yellowish; but they are grouped in inflorescences, consisting of 4-8 small flowers, subtended by large bracts of bright red color. In recent years, breeders have engaged in producing poinsettias with pink, yellowish, white, or even curled bracts or in double the number of the original plants. The flowering, with consequent production of colored bracts, takes place in winter; during the rest of the year generally the species of Euphorbia pulcherrima are roundish bushes, consisting of thin fleshy stems and green foliage.
The Euphorbia pulcherrima plants acquired during the Christmas period are usually cuttings rooted for a short period of time and cultivated in greenhouses; for this reason they should be kept in the apartment, at a temperature between 12 and 25 ° C. Watering must be provided regularly, always waiting for the soil to dry slightly before supplying water; We fertilize every 15-20 days with fertilizer for flowering plants, avoiding excesses.
In reality this type of plants can also withstand lower temperatures, and can be grown on the terrace or in a stairwell, but only if these temperatures are reached gradually; so as soon as you buy our Christmas stars you will necessarily have to grow them in the apartment; the following year they can be left on the terrace, or in a place protected from frost, but not necessarily at home. They prefer quite bright positions, but they do not like the direct sun and do not even like sudden changes in temperature, or air currents, which cause the total loss of foliage. In the spring repot the plants in slightly larger containers, using a good soft and very well drained soil.
To make them flourish again
In nature the plants of Euphorbia pulcherrima bloom in winter, that is in the period of the year when the hours of light in a day are few; to get the colored bracts every year, in addition to fertilizing and watering the plant correctly, in winter we will have to keep it in a place where it receives light only for 6-8 hours a day, also avoiding exposure to artificial light. As the seasons go by, the poinsettia plants grown in pots tend to produce a lot of foliage in the upper part of the branches, and to "empty" themselves at the bottom, creating little thick and poorly decorative shrubs; in order to always maintain a well dense and dense plant it is advisable, in spring, to intervene by shortening all the branches by about a third, or even more; in this way we will favor the development of many new shoots, and therefore of a compact plant rich in foliage.
Christmas star - Euphorbia pulcherrima: Curiosity
We remember that when the branches of the Christmas stars are pruned, like those of all the euphorbiacees, they emit a sticky latex, which can be very irritating in contact with the skin or eyes; this latex is poisonous for insects and small animals: therefore after pruning we clean the drums using a microfibre cloth well soaked in warm water, in order to stop the latex spillage.