At Christmas time what better way is there of brightening up the house than a vibrant red poinsettia.
Originally from Mexico where they can grow into large plants 3m (10ft) tall, they are well suited to a warm house. New varieties have been bred in a range of colours; ivory, salmon, pink and marbled coloured bracts giving a variety to suit any taste.
They are relatively easy to keep; maintain them on the dry side, watering from the top with lukewarm water then emptying the plant tray so that they are not sitting in water. Feeding with a specific poinsettia feed is best.
Poinsettias are related to the euphorbias and as such produce a white sap if damaged, this can cause irritation but is not poisonous.
It can be interesting to grow a poinsettia on for the following year but it takes some work; cutting back to half its size in June, then from September ensuring that it does not receive any artificial light which may mean placing a black bag over it each night at dusk and removing it at dawn. This will ensure it colours up properly, even a few minutes of artificial light during its dark period can affect the colouring up process.
If you find that you have always struggled to keep poinsettias most likely because the room is to cold, try a cyclamen or azalea in its place, they both look fantastic at this time of year.