Learn how to care for Christmas cactus and poinsettias

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Poinsettias can be found in most UK homes during the festive season. The plants can commonly be found in garden centres, supermarkets and even on the forecourts of garages at this time of year. Poinsettia care can be difficult, especially because once the plant has been exposed to the cold – whether in your home or in the shop – it is likely it won’t last. Luckily, David Gillespie, core garden buying manager at Homebase has shared the best weather conditions for poinsettias, how best to water them and what to do with the festive plant next year.


Poinsettias are native to Mexico and Central America which means they don’t need as much water as people often think.

Overwatering is one of this plant’s biggest killers and can cause the plant’s leaves to turn yellow and drop.

An overwatered poinsettia will also likely get root rot which could ultimately kill the plant.

However, underwatering plants can also cause problems with the plant wilting and the leaves dropping.

David advised houseplant owners to check the plant’s compost in order to check whether it needs watering.

He exclusively told Express.co.uk: “As with other plants, make sure to leave watering until the soil’s surface is dry to the touch.

“This will save you time and prevent overwatering which can cause the bright red bracts to turn yellow.

“Remember to feed your poinsettia every three to four weeks to keep plant healthy and provide the necessary nutrients for new growth.”

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Poinsettias are indoor plants and need a minimum temperature of between 13C and 16C.

Cooler weather conditions can cause shock which is often why the plant’s leaves and bracts will drop.

When indoors, it’s important to position them carefully in order for them to thrive.

David explained: “Poinsettias will become cold and frosty just like us if trapped behind the curtain in the cool winter months, so make sure to keep your plant healthy by taking it off the windowsill at night.

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“Why not show it off in the centre of your Christmas table to give it the bright, indirect light it needs?”

When choosing a spot for your poinsettia, think about the positioning of your windows. A poinsettia will be happy in a window where it will receive lots of bright but indirect sunlight.

A south, east or west-facing window would be a good spot for the plant but not on a window sill.

Temperatures tend to cool down significantly at night so try to keep them away from draughty windows, doorways and open fireplaces.

Next year

Many people chuck their poinsettias away at the end of the festive season when they don’t need to.

Poinsettias will flower again the following year so can be kept alive throughout the year ready for the next festive season.

David said plant owners shouldn’t panic when the leaves drop off in spring as this is normal.

He said: “As the festive season comes to an end, don’t overwater it or panic when the leaves drop off.

“This will happen in spring and simply means it is time to cut your poinsettia back and prepare it for the new season.”

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