One of the things i am most proud of is how my poinsetta has thrived in the last six+ months. I was on my final pre christmas shopping trip on 18th Dec last year when i saw, stacked on the shelf above the checkouts row after row of plastic wrapped poinsetta plants, the tops all rosy red for christmas. I reached down for one, and could see that the plants had been suffering badly – they were as dry as a bone, a lot of the leaves had fallen off – no wonder hardly anyone was buying one. i selected the best of a very bad bunch, paid for it and took it home (I probably shouldn’t have paid the £4 it cost, given the state of it – but hey, it was christmas. Although, yanno, “every little helps”… like a bit of water for them? it really makes me cross how badly some stores treat their plants – from tescos to asda to wilkinsons.. grrr!). When i got home i gave it a jolly good thorough watering, pulled the dead/dying leaves off it, repotted it to a much larger pot, and stood the sorry looking thing on the kitchen windowsill, and went to look up how to look after a poinsetta (something Tescos had obviously failed to do!).

Poinsetta after id bought it, repotted and got rid of dead leaves

Poinsetta after i'd bought it, repotted and got rid of the dead leaves.. sorry looking thing isn't it?

I discovered that the poinsetta is basically a desert plant, it prefers to be watered heavily infrequently (so its an ideal plant for those, like me, who forget to water their plants regularly, although it should be watered when the soil is dry). it doesn’t like sitting in water at all! The flowers can be turned red for christmas year on year by putting it in darkness for a set number of hours from a certain date onwards – 1st October. This page tells you how. Anyway. all i’ve done is to water it, and leave it be on the kitchen windowsill – which gets light first thing in the morning perhaps, and last thing at night, but otherwise is north facing so very indirect light. It seems to have thrived there, and a couple of days ago i moved it into the living room next to the TV, so that we could enjoy the nicer looking plant (the avocado plant that was there is looking rather unhappy, when it was doing so well on the kitchen windowsill, so i’ve swapped them for now to give the avocado some TLC). And the result?

Six+ months after id bought it.. what a difference!

Six+ months after i'd bought it.. what a difference!

And there you see.. it is possible, with TLC, to rescue a plant from the supermarket. I’m hoping to get some lovely red flowers on it this year, and next year i’ll be following directions and pruning around June time (i didn’t do it this year as i wanted the plant to recover as strongly as possible).

Why don’t you rescue a sorry looking poinsetta from the supermarket before christmas this year? If you’re smarter than me, you could even get away with paying a lot less than the price for it.. I know i’m tempted to buy another one come December…!!