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Few other plants symbolize the Christmas season like the incredibly vibrant and versatile poinsettia.
Each year many new varieties are introduced, making them more resilient in our winter household conditions and also more viable for the grower to produce. Their multi-tasking abilities still make them one of the most popular plants in the world.
From the giant showstoppers you see in hotels and event centres, to tiny, single stemmed Pixies, they can be used as décor in almost any office or home setting. The most popular consumer size is grown in a six-inch pot, which is a perfect coffee or side table size, providing a great display while not overpowering the room. Varieties in smaller pots can fit on wider windowsills and look quite comfortable anywhere in a smaller space.
Their ability to combine with other plants has really allowed poinsettias to expand their horizons. Fern-settias are kind of fun. Poinsettias are the focal points of these planters and are surrounded by low growing pteris ferns. Ivy-settias are even more unique. Again, poinsettias centre the pots, but trailing ivies are trained up and around overhead rings.
An old favourite is the Mum-settia, with white mums encircling the poinsettias. More popular today are Kal-settias, where long-lasting white kalanchoes are surrounded by bright red poinsettias, creating a beautiful display that can last up to a month.
Even more on trend today are the many new and colourful foliaged tropicals like nephthytis, peperomia, and pothos planted in perfect combination with the many different coloured poinsettias available now. I particularly like the Christmas Fern or seliginella, especially white-tipped Frosty, used with poinsettias. When you incorporate different colours of kalanchoes, chrysanthemums and African violets you can create some stunning planters. Miniature roses, especially the whites, will give you an elegant Christmas look with white, or even coloured, poinsettias.
Something you don’t see too often are some of the more resilient outdoor cut greens like pine branches, artistically added to the poinsettia pots for an indoor or outdoor effect.
Twigs, too, add another dimensional value to poinsettias. Slender, white-glittered branches inserted into the soil and concentrated in the centre of the plant add height and airiness for a new look. If you prefer a rustic feel, add some birch or huckleberry stems.
Something that really kicks up a display a notch is a touch of glitter on the colourful bracts. With the application of non-toxic, non-harmful glue sprayed lightly on the plants, you can add clear, opalescent, gold, or silver glitter. When the evening lights are turned on, the sparkle is just wonderful.
Poinsettia painting is a big thing now. When white or pink poinsettias are hand-sprayed with special paints, you can create a new colour spectrum from aquas, blues and purples, to hot pinks and metallics. Some designers layer their paints to create some beautiful accents and stunning artistry.
Many growers are also planting several different colours of poinsettias together in one pot. The traditional tricolour, with red, pink and white, is still popular today, but with the many new varieties available the combination potential is limitless. Using various shades of pinks or whites makes for a sophisticated monochromatic planter. Some of the striped varieties like Ice Crystal, Enduring Marble and white-edged Marblestar are really cool. Tidings Light Pink and Dark Pink are both so sophisticated with their intense red/rose/pink bracts, while bicolour Ice Punch features cranberry red bracts frosted with white centres. Keep an eye out for novelty speckled varieties like Picasso, Jingle Bells, Red Glitter and Candy Cane. This is where tradition is enhanced by artistry and broadens the appeal, especially for the younger generations.
Poinsettia breeders are continually doing their part in expanding the range of colour variations and flower forms. One of the most unique varieties to appear in the market in several years is the fully double, ruffled Winter Rose. Much improved over the original plant, the flower bracts are now larger, creating a much fuller, new look.
Today poinsettias can be enjoyed earlier in the holiday season, and Dummen Orange, a leading global plant breeder and propagator based in the Netherlands, has introduced a couple of beautiful fall-toned varieties like Autumn Leaves, a golden peach colour, and Golden Glo, a rich golden yellow which intensifies as the bracts mature. I have to say my favourite of their newer varieties is Norwin Orange. It’s vibrant hot orange colour segues nicely into Christmas, and it is truly one of the most eye-catching of all the poinsettia colours.
Whites are becoming ever more popular as they parallel the current decorating themes in our households today. Folks love the pure whites and some of the best varieties are Polar Bear, White Wonder and the newer variety, Frozen. The dark green foliage of these varieties contrasts with the vibrant white bracts, and they simply glow in our homes.
Another very beautiful variety is the variegated green and gold foliage of Tapestry. It is stunning with its vibrant red bracts, and the most gorgeous shades of cranberry, burgundy and maroon are also available.
There are so many new varieties out there that tolerate our winter household conditions, but the series which is really growing in popularity is the J’Adore series. Often known as the Princettia, their early series has absolutely vibrant hot pink and white bracts. Originally bred from plants growing outdoors in summer, they have great resilience and simply light up any room indoors.
Through dedicated breeding, and with very creative value-adding, today’s poinsettias are highly relevant, enduringly popular, and a welcome addition to our Christmas décor.
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