Poinsettias, the Christmas Star of floral design

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  • How to use this classic festive house plant as a cut flower and mark International Poinsettia Day in haute couture style

    Floral stylists Okishima & Simmonds have brought their creative skills to bear by designing and making this stunning ombré gown of poinsettias (above), to celebrate International Poinsettia Day (12th December), which marks the death of Joel Robert Poinsett, the American diplomat and botanist who introduced the poinsettia to America from Mexico in 1828.

    The dress is made by Jessica Simmonds and Chikae Okishima from more than 300 red, variegated and cream poinsettias, each of which has been individually hand cut, on site at the Hill Brothers Nursery, Chichester. The nursery produces some three million plants a year, including half a million poinsettia, for the British market.

    “We love to create unique designs that merge the floral world with the fashion world and International Poinsettia Day has given us an exciting opportunity to do that,” says Jessica. ‘We wanted the dress to flow so that it looked as though it was growing out of the poinsettia beds beneath…

    “…we used the traditional red poinsettia for the skirt and showcased the other colours through the bodice.”

    Recreating the dress may not be your forte but with a few minutes spent preparing the blooms, you can use freshly cut poinsettias to decorate your home so that it will look just as colourful and exciting.

    Above and below are some inspiring arrangements created by floral designer Damien da Rocha for the Christmas Star in Paris recently.

    Whether you are going to keep them in their pots, or you are going to use them as cut flowers, make sure your poinsettia plants are in the very best condition when you buy them, and keep them safe from the cold during and after you get them home.

    To use poinsettias as cut flowers you will need:

    A pair of secateurs, a sharp gardening knife and two separate containers, one with water heated to 60 degrees Centigrade, the other containing cold water.

    • Choose the flower you want to use and cut the stem from the main plant with the secateurs.
    • Remove most of the foliage, keeping that on one side, in case you want to use it in your flower arrangement.
    • Use the sharp knife to trim the bottom of the stem, making sure to cut at an angle, as above.
    • A milky sap will leak from the stem; this needs to be sealed so that the flower can survive. To do this, dip the cut stem in the container of hot water (above), holding it in the water for five seconds. Then remove it and dip it into the cold water. This completes the sealing process and your cut poinsettia flower is now ready to use.
    • Repeat the same process for every cut poinsettia flower you want to use. Properly prepared, the flowers should last up to two weeks in water.

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