Plants Of The Month - December - Cyclamen & Poinsettia

Indoor Cyclamen Persicum.

Originating from the Middle East, Cyclamen Persicum naturally grows in countries such as Palestine, Syria, Israel, Greece, Turkey and some Mediterranean islands – Sicily Rhodes and Cyprus. However, it does not grow in Iran, or ancient Persia, as its botanical name suggests! It was introduced into Europe at the end of the 16th Century, probably in France first.

Somewhat neglected in the following century, the cyclamen became fashionable again in France in the 1900’s. But since 1860 the first variants of the botanical or wild cyclamen appeared in England, then in Germany, with much bigger flowers and varying colours. They are the ancestors of our current varieties. Today, new cultivation methods and new varieties such as the F1 hybrid varieties offer longer lasting, hardier and more regular flowering and a white range of colours.

Cyclamen have been used to decorate our homes for many hundreds of years. The lovely nodding flowers stand proudly above the magnificent silver grey foliage, and will last for many weeks provided the plant is cared for correctly.

Follow our simple care instructions below:

- Place your Cyclamen in a cool bright spot, they do not respond well to strong sunlight or hot room

temperatures, 13ºC(55ºF) is ideal.

- Water when the soil has partially dried out by standing in 3cm of water for 5 minutes and allow to drain before returning to its pot cover. Always tip out any excess water that’s left in the saucer Cyclamen do not like to sit in water.



This ever popular Christmas plant has an interesting history. A native of Mexico, it was introduced into the United States of America by Joel Roberts Poinsetta, the first minister to Mexico, in the 1820's. In the wild it can reach 5 metres or more, and was once harvested as an important crop by the Aztecs during the 14th to 16th century, when its sap was collected and used to control fever, and the red bracts made a reddish dye.

It was during the 16th century that the Poinsettia became associated with Christmas. As Legend tells, a poor child in Mexico called Pepita had no gift to offer the Christ Child at the Christmas service, as was the tradition, so she gathered native plants to take. As she approached the altar, she cried with embarrassment at the humble gift, and as Pepita lay her small bouquet down in front of the nativity scene, the weeds burst into brilliant red flowers. It was seen as a Christmas miracle and from then on, the Poinsettia became known as 'Flores de Noche Buena, or the Christmas Eve flower.

Its latin name is Euphorbia pulcherrima, which means 'beautiful', and its only since the early 1960's that more compact forms have been bred. Modern varieties are bushier, more attractive and these days growers have selected forms that are more likely to succeed in the house.

The traditional red Poinsettia is still the most popular colour. However there are at least a dozen or more tones of red, various pink shades, exquisite marbled varieties and sophisticated creamy white forms available.

It's important to source a good plant that has been slowly grown with only a little heat, forming a sturdy, robust plant. Here at Monkton Elm we insist on English grown Poinsettias as they don't travel very well. Our west country grower specialises in Poinsettias and delivers two to three times a week, ensuring our plants are always fresh and healthy.

How to get the best from you Poinsettia

* Ensure the plant is placed in a cellophane sleeve for protection for its journey home after purchase.

* Don't leave it in a cold car.

* When home, carefully cut off the sleeve to avoid damaging fragile stems.

* Place in a well lit, draught free spot, away from sources of heat such as a radiator.

* Water moderately, with tepid water, leaving the compost to dry inbetween waterings. Its important never to let the plant stand in water, although it could be placed on a saucer of damp pebbles, to raise the humidity around the plant.

* Your Poinsettia should last well into the New Year and give you many weeks of enjoyment.

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