A native of Mexico the Poinsettia can be difficult to keep alive in our Irish climate - even with the help of a really warm house
A QUESTION one of my readers asked this week is one I often get asked around this time of year.
How do we look after Christmas plants going forward?
Firstly, lets list a few of the Christmas plants. By far the most popular Christmas house plant is the Poinsettia.
The Poinsettia plant is instantly recognisable by the presence of its red leaves. Many people think that these red leaves are flowers.
However, the flowers on Poinsettia’s are at the centre. They are much smaller and yellow in colour. Poinsettias are also available in white and, sometimes, in pink.
These plants sell in their hundreds of thousands in Ireland each year. One point to be aware of is the Poinsettia sap. Poinsettia sap can act as a skin irritant. Therefore, it is important to handle them carefully and keep out of reach of children and pets.
Another popular Christmas plant is the Christmas Cactus. These plants don’t look like your typical Cactus plants. For starters, the don’t have any needles or spines.
The Christmas Cactus comes in a variety of colours - from white through to deep pink. Curiously, it is the decreasing levels of daylight in winter that triggers these plants into flowering. You may sometimes see an example of a Christmas Cactus in somebody’s house that gets quite sizeable - maybe 70 cm across. It takes several years for a plant to achieve this size.
The Christmas Pepper is another plant which tends to linger after Christmas. It is recognisable, as the name suggests, from the presence of tiny peppers throughout the plant. It adds a little natural colour indoors around this time of year.
Regarding the long-term care of these three plants, there are some basic maintenance rules. Firstly, they need to be kept away from radiators and strong light.
Water them only a little in winter and increase watering as we move through the seasons. Add a little liquid plant food during the summer months. I am afraid to add that even if you follow these steps, your chances of your plants surviving from one year to the next are slim.
One final question – if you still have your real Christmas Tree, how can you dispose of it? Here in Limerick there is one easy option. The easiest option is to bring it to the Council Recycling centre in Mungret.
You will need to pay a charge but you can fill the car up with other segregated recyclables. I always find the staff very helpful any time I call. Please remember to place the Christmas tree inside an old duvet cover. This will ensure that you don’t spend the next several months plucking needles from your vehicle’s interior!
Contact James by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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