Social media has revolutionised our lives, and if there’s one trend that’s topping the popularity polls it’s the nation’s passion for houseplants. From selfies to ‘shelfies’ (images of shelves brimming with greenery), ‘plant parents’ simply cannot resist the urge to share their beloved indoor jungles with followers from around the world. Now, the arrival of beautifully coloured poinsettias at garden centres and retail outlets across the UK is set to up the game, offering tech-savvy Brits a brilliant opportunity to snap wow-factor festive images that’ll set social platforms on fire.

Let’s face it, no-one likes a social media post that’s ignored, and whether you’re uploading to Instagram, Twitter, Pintrest, Facebook or any other platform, we get a boost from seeing ‘likes’ and comments flood in. This year above all others, we all need a pick-me-up, having endured the Covid-19 pandemic, and sharing images festive poinsettias topped with beautiful coloured bracts online is a brilliant way to get the festive spirit into full swing. You don’t have to be an influencer with thousands of followers to create that perfect inspirational social image: follow these eight pieces of top advice from poinsettia experts Stars for Europe and boost your social status over night!

1) Poinsettias are photogenic

Take a look at the #houseplants hashtag on Instagram – it currently has more than 4.8million houseplant posts and the number is growing fast, proof if any was needed of the popularity of indoor plants right now. Narrow your search down by using the #poinsettia hashtag (over 325,000 posts) and you’ll be wowed by lots of vividly coloured images and festive inspiration. Now, think about how you can stage your chosen poinsettias to create a radically different image? It’s no surprise that many Instagram poinsettia snaps feature traditional festive red bracts, so why not break from the crowd and choose contrasting shades of white, pink, yellow, cream or marbled poinsettias that’ll pitch your post head and shoulders above the competition?

2) Lights, camera, action!

Any professional photographer will tell you than natural light works wonders – even low winter sunlight can inject vibrancy into colours and set the stage for an award-winning image. Making best use of natural light indoors, however, can be challenging: snap your poinsettia on a window sill and chances are that light streaming in will leave your image over exposed (plus, it’s never a good idea to keep poinsettias on window ledges, as temperatures can plunge when the curtains are closed at night). Instead, stage your display in a bright room, away from intense sources of light, and don’t be tempted to use your camera or smartphone’s flash; that way your image will benefit from richer, more true-to-life tones. Remember that an under-exposed picture is easier to adjust with software than a glaring, over-exposed image.

3) Set the stage with a festive background

Many a Christmas card will be adorned with traditional Yuletide images of poinsettias sat next to a roaring fire or glowing log burner. While poinsettias love warm, snug, draught-free environments, placing plants next to sources of intense heat can result in considerable damage, so if a fireplace is your chosen location, stage your snap pronto then relocate poinsettias back to their warm, bright locations. Instead, why not picture poinsettias next to a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, or snap plants on a festive table top alongside natural decorations such as cones, twigs, ivy and sprigs of holly?

4) Go under cover!

Vividly coloured bracts of poinsettias scream Christmas and draw the viewers’ eye, but images can be spoiled if ugly plastic plant pots are in view. Investing in pot covers will pay dividends: either go for the complimentary look (a rich Christmassy red to match a red-topped poinsettia) or dare to be different by harnessing the power of contrast: a wintry white pot cover, for example, contrasts beautifully with dark foliage and pink bracts, adding a kaleidoscope of vibrant colours to your image.

5) Choose perfect partners

Planting partners – plants that work well together – are big in gardening, and it’s a concept that’s just at home indoors, too. Christmas is all about bringing sparkling colours into your living environment that help to celebrate holidays at home, and poinsettias work wonderfully with other festive favourites such as the scented blooms of forced hyacinths, intensely fragranced flowers of paperwhite narcissi and towering stems of giant-flowered amaryllis – as well as moth orchids and cymbidiums that are often in full bloom over the festive season. Why not group these favourites together to create a mind-blowing image of stunning mid-winter colour? Remember to add depth to your picture to draw the eye in – locate taller blooms at the rear with the smallest at the front – mini poinsettias work a treat for boosting colours at the lower edge of your photo and help to create multiple points of interest – far better than a single plant plonked solo in the centre!

6) Go easy on filters

The nation fills its homes with poinsettias every winter for the vibrancy and rich tones of their intensely coloured bracts. Let the natural hues of these festive favourites express themselves in your image and don’t be tempted to use too many filters. Instagram, for example, offers a host of image-manipulating filters carrying names as diverse as Clarendon, Lark, Perpetua and Hudson, but unless you’re keen to set a particularly moody tone, let the unrivalled ability of poinsettias’ leaf colours speak for themselves. Don’t zoom in too hard: it’s easier to crop an image to perfection if you’ve left sufficient room.

7) Elevate your poinsettia to new heights

You rarely see a professional photographer stand, point and shoot. The most creative images are often snapped from above or below, or using a quirky angle. Remember that Christmas is all about making memories, so don’t be afraid to inject a sense of fun: staging your poinsettia with a glass of your favourite festive tipple, or a gift for Santa, for example, will bring a smile to social media users’ faces and urge followers to hit the ‘like’ button. It’s often said that you should never work with pets if you intend to broadcast to the world, but Christmas is all about fun: if you can persuade your pets to pose alongside a poinsettia for long enough to get that perfect image, you’ll be onto a winner, especially if you tag #dogsofinstagram or #catsofinstagram alongside your #poinsettia hashtag.

8) Remember the rule of thirds

We don’t want to get too technical, after all, Stars for Europe are poinsettia experts and not professional photographers, but remembering the rule of thirds can help to compose a balanced poinsettia image that stands out from the crowd. The rule is simple: compose your picture divided evenly into thirds (using two horizontal and two vertical lines) and place your poinsettia and festive accessories at the intersections of these divisions. That way, points of interest are spread across many of the nine sectors of the frame, creating multiple elements that catch viewers’ attention and keep followers entranced for longer by the creativity of your image. The rule isn’t set in stone, but it’s a great way to get your creative juices flowing. Just remember to thank us for the advice when you hit your first million followers!

Top tips: how to keep your poinsettia looking picture-perfect

– Choose poinsettias from warm, sheltered displays located away from store entrances.

– Ask the checkout operator to wrap your plant in paper to keep it snug on the trip home.

– Never leave poinsettias shivering in chilly cars while you do other shopping.

– Grow your plant a warm, draught-free position that’s kept between 15 to 22 degrees.

– Poinsettias relish lots of light, so choose a bright location with filtered sunlight.

– Only water when compost feels almost dry. Never leave pots standing in saucers of water.

– Around four weeks after purchase, start feeding monthly with indoor plant fertiliser.

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