Learn how to care for Christmas cactus and poinsettias

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The poinsettia, also known as the Christmas Star Flower, originates in Mexico but can be found in most households in the UK at this time of year. The houseplant is striking with red bracts, green leaves and pretty flowers. Poinsettias are often decorative, being used as a table centrepiece at Christmas or to decorate a fireplace or window sill.

However, the plant may be more beneficial than people realise, according to experts.

In fact, gardening experts have shared how the popular festive plant could be the key to a good night’s sleep over Christmas.

Levon Hall, of leading online bedroom furniture retail website www.bedkingdom.co.uk, explained: “Christmas is an incredibly busy time for many of us and our quality of sleep can sometimes suffer as a result.

“Many people will be looking for tips and tricks to aid a good night’s sleep before the big day, and the key could already be in our homes.

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“Indoor plants have been shown to absorb harmful gasses and help filter and clean the air we breathe.

“One of the most common plants in our homes at this time of year, the poinsettia, can be a major help for purifying the air to help us drift off more easily.

“Poinsettias are particularly effective at removing formaldehyde, which can irritate our airways and is found in a range of common household objects, from flooring and fabric to cigarette smoke and even some detergents.”

Poinsettias can grow up to four metres high and their sap, which contains latex, can easily be seen if you snap one of the leaves in half.

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The sap is sticky and white and can cause a skin rash in some individuals who have a latex allergy.

The plant’s star-shaped leaves are often associated with the Star of David, which led the Three Wise Men to Jesus in the Nativity story.

However, the plants were used by the Aztecs for a number of purposes, including as a red dye for fabrics and as an ingredient in fever medicine.

Poinsettias aren’t the only houseplants that can help aid sleep and absorb harmful gasses.

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Lavender is known for its calming aroma which is often used in pillow sprays. Research has also found that lavender improves slow-wave sleep – the deep sleep stage when the heartbeat slows and muscles start to relax.

The plant is also known to reduce blood pressure and can help those struggling with anxiety.

Mr Hall also recommended aloe, which helps boost oxygen levels in the air.

Meanwhile, the peace lily can increase bedroom humidity by up to five percent, meaning it could be useful if dry air is harming your sleep.

Increased humidity is known to decrease dry skin, hair, static electricity and susceptibility to colds.

Snake plants also put oxygen into rooms and can help improve air quality.

The houseplants are great at removing harmful chemicals in the air such as xylene, trichloroethylene, toluene, benzene, and formaldehyde.

English ivy, spider plants and Devil’s ivy are also known to help aid sleep.

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