Poinsettias are not disposable! If you take good care of your red, yellow, white or pink Christmas star and repot it regularly, you don’t have to buy a new one every year.
In contrast to common practice, the poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima), which are so popular during Advent, are not disposable. The evergreen shrubs come from South America, where they are several meters tall and many years old. In this country, you can buy poinsettias everywhere during Advent as miniature versions in small or medium-sized plant pots.
As a Christmas decoration, the Christmas stars adorn dining tables, window sills, foyers, and shop windows. What many do not know: Even after Christmas, the beautiful evergreen plants can be cared for as houseplants.
Repotting a poinsettia is not difficult. After the rest, the old root ball is carefully removed from the plant pot. Cut back dry and rotten roots. Then fill a slightly larger, clean pot with structurally stable, water-permeable substrate and place the poinsettia in it. Press the plant down well and water it. Drainage on the bottom of the pot prevents waterlogging.
As with most mass-produced items, savings are made in every nook and cranny when trading the poinsettia to keep the price low. Therefore, most of the plants from the supermarket or hardware store arrive in small pots with a cheap, poor substrate. In this atmosphere, it is of course not possible for the plant to survive longer than a few weeks. It is no wonder that Euphorbia pulcherrima usually loses and dies after a short time.
When do you repot a poinsettia?
If you want to keep your poinsettia, you have to give it special care. Towards the end of the flowering phase, the poinsettia loses its leaves and flowers – this is completely normal. Now place the plant in a cooler place and waterless. Euphorbia needs the resting phase to collect energy for new growth.
The poinsettia is then repotted in April. In our latitudes, the tall shrub can only be grown as a stocky pot plant. That is why the poinsettia is treated like a bonsai when potting, repotting, and cutting. Tip: Wear gloves when cutting or repotting, as contact with the poisonous milky sap of the poinsettia can irritate the skin.
What kind of earth does the poinsettia need?
Poinsettias prefer to stand dry rather than too wet. When waterlogged, the leaves turn yellow and are thrown off. Root rot and gray mold are the results. It is therefore advisable to use a substrate when repotting that meets the requirements of the South American shrub. The earth for the poinsettia should be permeable and not condense too much, as cheap earth with peat content often does.
Cactus soil has proven itself in the culture of poinsettia. It is loose and allows excess water to drain off well. If you don’t have cactus soil at hand, you can also mix high-quality potting soil with sand or lava granules and plant your poinsettia there. A handful of ripe compost is used as a slow-release fertilizer for the plant.
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The right pot for the poinsettia
Use a new or well-cleaned pot that is only slightly larger than the old one to repot the poinsettia. No more than two fingers should fit between the edge of the pot and the root ball. If Euphorbia has too much space for the roots, the plant will have many green leaves but few bracts and only bloom moderately. After the resting phase, in which there was little watering, the soil in the pot should have dried slightly.
Carefully loosen the root ball from the plant pot by gently kneading it. If the roots are strongly bonded to the wall of the pot, you can drive around the edge with a long knife. When repotting, remove the old soil and rotten root ends. Long roots of the houseplants can be shortened a little with sharp scissors. The shoots should also be cut back before repotting.
Repotting the poinsettia: step by step
Fill the new plant pot with the appropriate substrate and carefully place the poinsettia in it. Press the root ball well all around and fill up with soil up to the edge of the pot. The poinsettia should not sit deeper in the ground after repotting than before! If you only have regular potting soil and no sand or cactus soil at home, that’s fine either. In any case, you should first add drainage made of expanded clay or pebbles to the pot.
This prevents waterlogging later when watering. Water the repotted poinsettia well and let excess water runoff. Then place Euphorbia pulcherrima on a saucer or in a planter with a drainage facility for further cultivation.
Further care after repotting
If you keep the poinsettia in shape by properly cutting and repotting, you can get the poinsettia to bloom again next winter. Once the Christmas star has been carefully repotted, it can stay in its pot for the next two to three years. If necessary, a fresh substrate is added on top.
With good care, the shrub can grow to a nice size. If the plant pot is completely rooted, or if the roots come out of the top of the pot, it is time for the next pot size.