Go festive with the indoor flower of the season

Dahlias - one of the boldest plants you can grow .

GARDENING: Brian Kidd is planning for summer with dahlias

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I thought we would stay indoors this week, mainly because I have had the most difficult time with a pain in my neck.

I can’t remember ever being in such a state but at last, after about a week, the pain is now just an ache.

Yes, I have been to see the doctor and am following his advice to the letter.

Christmas is coming and one of the loveliest Christmas gems is the poinsettia.

They were introduced into Great Britain in 1840 from Mexico, where they grow naturally as large evergreen shrubs or small trees.

Just imagine our British plant hunters seeing them for the first time – acres of evergreens with huge red bracts at the top of every branch.

When I was an apprentice, poinsettias were grown for decoration purposes and they were about three to four feet high – ideal for a wonderful display on a stage for a special occasion but far too large to be used as a house plant.

People would see them in botanical gardens and become interested in them and plant breeders thought it would be a good idea to try to breed varieties which were much shorter and bushier.

As you must realise, they were very successful and poinsettia became the best- seller at Christmas.

If you are thinking about buying one, please buy it from a garden centre where good gardeners work, and buy one which is indoors 
because they hate being in the cold.

Make sure it is wrapped to protect it on the journey home and then place it in a light place, not in direct sunshine.

Badly organised watering is the main killer of these gems.

Always keep the compost on the dry side and if you think your plant will die, buy a capillary mat which goes underneath the pot, water the matting in the pot saucer and the plant will absorb all the water it needs through the roots.

Why do I mention these things to you? It is because people confess that they don’t have a clue about watering! Most people over water.

The flowers are very tiny. It is the colourful bracts around the flowers which attract the bees and flying pollinators .

In July, cut every stem back to half its length and after watering, repot the plant into the next size pot using an ericaceous compost. Keep it in the light.

In September keep the plant in the light in a room where the electric light is not switched on and your poinsettia will have red bracts again during February.