Gardeners' World: How to care for houseplants

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Poinsettias are one of the world’s most popular festive plants, with millions of people inviting the houseplant indoors throughout the Christmas period. While the plant is renowned for making wonderful displays, they can be a little tricky to care for, especially if it is cold outdoors and the heating is on.

Experts at Stars for Europe have shared top tips when it comes to looking after the festive plant, including the perfect water and nutrition the plant should receive.

They said: “Poinsettias need soil within an optimum ph range of 5.8 to 6.2, using three parts soil to one part grit so plenty of oxygen can reach the roots. 

“They must not be over-watered and left in soggy soil.”

According to the experts, leaving the plant in soggy soil is a “crime” against poinsettias.

The festive plant, like many other houseplants, is often overwatered.

Common symptoms of an overwatered poinsettia include yellowing or brown leaves as well as wilt in severe cases.

When It comes to watering the plant you should allow the soil to dry out first and foremost.

The experts explained: “This is a crime against poinsettias almost (although not quite) on a par with blasting them with cold air. 

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“You should allow compost to just start drying out before giving your plant light watering, taking care not to soak them. 

“Overwatering can cause poinsettias to be blighted by grey mould and also makes them vulnerable to attack from common pests like mealybugs and scale insects.”

Misting plants can help to increase their humidity levels as well as prevent overwatering.

It only takes a couple of minutes and should be performed in the morning to allow them to dry out during the day.

The houseplant experts continued: “Poinsettias do like humid conditions, so keep them well misted, especially if there’s a danger of them gasping for moisture in rooms where the central heating is on full blast.”

When it comes to positioning the plant, it is recommended that they are kept out of harsh sunlight.

The experts explained: “Don’t put your plant baby in a shadowy corner.

“Poinsettias prefer a light spot rather than full shade, but out of the harsh rays of direct sunlight.

 “A good test is to see what kind of shadow your hand makes when you put it into the spot you have in mind for your poinsettia. 

“No shadow means the places are too shaded, a dark black shadow means the sun is too bright, but a soft grey shadow is perfect.”

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