Alan Titchmarsh: How to avoid ‘temperamental’ poinsettias – ‘don’t overwater it’

Alan Titchmarsh's top tips: Caring for Pointsettias

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Alan Titchmarsh regularly shares gardening advice online as well as on television. Sharing poinsettia top tips in a Waitrose & Partners video from 2015, the gardening expert explained: “The poinsettia has become the Christmas pot plant, not surprising really is it, when you think how well it suits our living conditions.”

Poinsettias are easy to keep alive, although getting their perfect living conditions right can be tough.

However, the expert explained that there are things you can do to stop it being a “bit temperamental”.

Alan said: “The first is light. Don’t stick it right on the windowsill, it’s cold out there and the frost can come through the glass.

“Instead, position it about a metre in from the window, then it’s getting really good indirect light.”

Poinsettias need around six hours of bright, indirect sunlight each day to thrive.

This may not always be possible during the winter months, which is why artificial light can also be used.

The festive plant can be placed in the bedroom, kitchen or living room, as long as the temperature is between 16 to 22 degrees celsius.

They should be kept away from radiators, cold windows and draughts.

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Alan added: “When it comes to watering, feel the surface of the compost and if it feels like a freshly rung out flannel, damp to the touch, it’s fine.

“Don’t overwater it, because that could result in the leaves dropping off.”

It should need watering around once a week, depending on its living conditions.

The best way to water it is thoroughly in a sink, so that it isn’t sitting in a pool of water.

Owners of poinsettias should also pay attention to smaller pots as they need a lot less water.

It is best to keep the plant dry or moist rather than watering them too much.

Poinsettias can also benefit from being regularly misted, to keep their humidity levels up.

This can be done with tepid water, especially important when the plant is flowering.

Alan continued: “When you’re bringing it home, make sure it’s well wrapped up. Being native to Mexico, it’s susceptible to being chilled. 

“When it’s chilled, the leaves in a week or two’s time, will turn black and fall off.”

Speaking on an episode of Lorraine a few years ago, Alan also explained that those wanting to purchase a poinsettia should do so from a garden centre, avoiding market stalls.

This is because they are more likely to have been kept warm and inside at garden centres, compared to being exposed to the cold at markets.

The expert said: “Get all of these things right and it’ll last you right through until Easter.”

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