We know that we are up to our ears in the holiday season when we see all of the poinsettias for sale in garden centres and retail shops. You can hardly go into any business that in not either selling these wonderful holiday plants or displaying one to make their own business premises look more attractive during the festive season.
Many of us purchase at least one poinsettia to add seasonal beauty to our indoor spaces. Before you make the purchase, however, it is a good idea to look around at your interior and see how you can incorporate a poinsettia or two into your indoor landscape.
Of course, one of the best ways to display a poinsettia is to let it stand alone as a specimen plant in the home. If you are planning to do this, however, you should think carefully about the plant you will buy.
It is important that a specimen plant be displayed in an attractive container, as the container is an integral part of the whole arrangement that will add immeasurably to the overall beauty of the display. A very large poinsettia displayed in a decorative urn, for example, will wow your guests during the holidays.
A specimen plant is just that — a specimen; it must be spectacular enough to stand on its own. Do not try to skimp on either quality or size; purchase a large, perfectly shaped plant that will be in scale with the location in which you plan to place it.
Nothing looks more forlorn than a rather small, nondescript plant that is trying — unsuccessfully — to be a stunning specimen plant. If you do not wish to spend the dollars to purchase a true specimen plant, then consider ways that you can incorporate a less expensive poinsettia into the indoor landscape.
One way to use a rather small plant, perhaps one with only two or three blooms, is to include it in a dish garden with other plants that you might have on hand. If you are unsure how to do this, observe some of the dish gardens — often sold as basket arrangements — in your local garden centre.
You will get some ideas on what plants might be included in the dish garden besides the poinsettia. You can either actually plant the dish garden or you can simply place several pots into the container and cover the pot rims with Spanish moss to make the arrangement appear that it is really growing in the container.
If you want to purchase a larger poinsettia but still think that it is not worthy of "specimen" status, you might group a couple of your houseplants together with the poinsettia. A poinsettia will combine nicely with a small peace lily, a pot of coleus, a table fern, a dieffenbachia or many other plants — use what you have.
It goes without saying that any poinsettia will look best if it is displayed in an attractive jardinière. Slip the pot out of its greenhouse sleeve before placing it into the jardinière to facilitate good drainage; otherwise, excess water will be held around the base of the pot by the sleeve and cause the roots to become sodden.
Another alternative display to the specimen plant is to obtain several smaller, less than perfect plants and group them into a display. You could even use a plant stand that accommodates three plants — perhaps one that you use in your outdoor garden.
You could use various sized boxes or flower pots in lieu of a plant stand and simply arrange them where you want the display and drape a colourful holiday cloth — even a Christmas tablecloth would work — over the boxes (pots) and then put the poinsettias in place.
Perhaps you might add a few shiny Christmas balls or a few large cones to the arrangement. Many poinsettias that you buy will come with an attractive bow, but you can replace this bow with a more spectacular one or supplement the existing bow by adding a few cones or other decorations to the bow.
Rather than purchasing the traditional red poinsettia, you may wish to create a display using another colour; if you do, the display will not look out of place in the post-Christmas season.
Poinsettias come in rich burgundy, lovely pinks and salmons, as well as ivory, and the ivory ones can be coloured just about any colour you wish — even black!
Whether you choose a large specimen, a small tabletop plant or several mid-sized poinsettias for your holiday décor, take care of the plants diligently so that they remain attractive throughout the holiday season.
* Keep the planting medium evenly moist
* Don’t locate the poinsettias where there are cold drafts
* Try to place the plants where they will get at least strong indirect light some direct sun would be even better.
Albert Parsons is a consultant for garden design and landscaping who lives in Minnedosa.