Sandy's Garden ... Red and Green for Christmas

They’re everywhere!

By Sandy Simpson
Friday, 10th December 2021, 10:31 am

Well, that’s a slight exaggeration – they’re almost everywhere.

The one place where you see fewer of them than you might expect is a garden centre.

All the supermarkets have them on prominent display; a lot of convenience stores have a supply of them,.

Falkirk Herald gardening guru Sandy Simpson

They’re very colourful and bring a blaze of what we regard as Christmas colours – red and green – to their location, wherever that may be.

They can be long-lasting and bring a cheerful and welcome show of winter colour for weeks and even months to come. Or they can be a great disappointment, failing from the moment they are brought into your home and fit only for the bin after a matter of days.

The plant is, of course, a poinsettia.

Nowadays, poinsettias are positively common if not exactly ten-a-penny. You can pay almost anything for them, partly dependent on their size … as you would expect, larger plants tend to be more expensive … but also, it seems to me, dependent on the seller’s expectations of what their customers are prepared to pay.

I looked at poinsettias yesterday in several retailers before I parted with £4.00 for what seemed to me to be a particularly attractive specimen in a 13cm … say, 5 inch … diameter ceramic pot, the plant itself being as near as dammit 50cm tall … say, 20 inches in old money. I have just, quite randomly, found an internet offer from a more up-market supermarket than I patronised to deliver a 50cm tall poinsettia in a ceramic pot to your friends for £30.00! That price does, admittedly, include FREE delivery, and a box holding such a gift securely will, assuredly, cost a bob-or-two to move from seller to recipient. But £30.00 for a plant very similar to one I brought home for £4.00 is quite a price hike!

The (redacted) customer does get a gift card and plant care instructions included. But as a service to people who prefer to buy less expensive poinsettias … like me! … here is a paraphrase of these instructions. ‘Place your poinsettia carefully in a warm room where it gets as much natural light as possible consistent with it being in a draught-free, fairly constant temperature. Don’t position it above, or close to, a radiator; and do make sure it is inside the curtains when you close them at night. A naturally well-lit location in your principal living-room is where it wants to be. Don’t allow the compost to dry out or allow it to become waterlogged. Water regularly and sparingly with tepid water. Remove dead leaves promptly, bearing in mind that the red ‘flowers’ are leaves.’ That’s all, folks, as Bugs Bunny would say.

But whether you pay £4.00 or £30.00, you can only hope that the wholesaler and retailer have kept the plants cosy in a draught-free, constant temperature, in compost which is neither too wet nor too dry before you bought them. If they’re outside, or just inside the doors; if their soil is dry or soggy to touch; or if there are dead leaves lying around, don’t buy them! Whatever the price; make sure you get as good a plant as you can and then enjoy it!