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Poinsettia Care
















A special thank-you to garden guild member, Carol Lynch, for compiling this information. 


How to select a beautiful poinsettia 

Bract color:  Choose plants with thoroughly colored and expanded bracts. (Bracts are the colored portions of the plant, while the flowers are the yellow centers.) Avoid plants with too much green around the bract edges, as this is a sign of a plant shipped before it was sufficiently mature. Look for plants with dense, plentiful foliage all the way to the soil line. An abundance of rich green foliage is a vital sign of good plant health. 


Shape and proportion:  Proper proportion of plant height and shape relative to container size is the key to an aesthetically pleasing poinsettia. Plants should appear balanced, full and attractive from all angles. A generally accepted standard is the plant should be 2 1/2 times taller than the diameter of the container. 


Durability and freshness:  Select plants with stiff stems, good bract retention and no signs of wilting, breaking or drooping. Be wary of plants displayed in paper, plastic or mesh sleeves, or plants that are too closely crowded in a sales display. A poinsettia needs its space, and the longer a plant remains sleeved, the more the plant quality will deteriorate. Crowding can reduce airflow around the plants and cause premature bract loss or other problems. Examine the plant's soil. It is best to avoid waterlogged soil, particularly if the plant appears wilted. Such a condition could signify irreversible root rot. When transporting the plant, protect it from chilling winds and temperatures below 50° F. Re-inserting the poinsettia into a sleeve or a large, roomy shopping bag will usually provide adequate protection for transporting the plant home when it is cold and windy. 


the DO's of poinsettia care 

- DO place your plant in indirect sunlight for at least six hours per day. If direct sun cannot be avoided, diffuse the light with a shade or sheer curtain. 

- DO provide room temperatures between 68 - 70° F. Generally speaking, if you are comfortable, so is your poinsettia. 

- DO water your plant when the soil feels dry to the touch. 

- DO use a large, roomy shopping bag to protect your plant when transporting it. 


the DON'Ts of poinsettia care 

- DON'T place plants near cold drafts or excessive heat. Avoid placing plants near   appliances, fireplaces or ventilating ducts or the top of a television. 

- DON'T expose plants to temperatures below 50° F. Poinsettias are sensitive to cold, so avoid placing them outside during the winter months. 

- DON'T over water your plant, or allow it to sit in standing water. Always remove a plant from any decorative container before watering, and allow the water to drain completely. 

- DON'T expose your plant to chilling winds when transporting it. 

- DON'T fertilize your plant when it is in bloom. 


A Lovely Legend 

The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) originates in Mexico, where it grows as a ten-foot-tall shrub. Although it was cultivated by the Aztecs, who made a reddish-purple dye out of the bracts and a medicine for fever from the plant's latex, the poinsettia's religious associations date back to the 17th century, when Franciscan priests, near Taxco, began to use the flower in nativity processions because of its brilliant color ("The Texas Poinsettia Guide"). 


history of the poinsettia IN THE UNITED STATES 

Poinsettias were first introduced in the United States in 1825 by Joel Roberts Poinsett. While serving as the first United States Ambassador to Mexico, he visited Taxco and found the flowers growing on the adjacent hillsides. Poinsett, a botanist of great ability, had some plants sent to his home in Greenville, S.C. They did well in his greenhouse and he distributed plants to botanical gardens and to horticultural friends, including John Bartram of Philadelphia. Bartram, in turn, supplied the plant to Robert Buist, a nurseryman who first sold the plant as Euphorbia pulcherrima, Willd. The name "poinsettia," however, has remained the accepted name in English-speaking countries. 


The poinsettia is NOT poisonous 

The widespread belief that poinsettias are poisonous is a misconception. The scientific evidence demonstrating the poinsettia's safety is ample and well documented. Studies conducted by The Ohio State University in cooperation with the Society of American Florists concluded that no toxicity was evident at experimental ingestion levels far exceeding those likely to occur in a home environment. In fact, the POISINDEX Information Service, the primary information resource used by most poison control centers, states that a 50-pound child would have to ingest more than 500 poinsettia bracts to surpass experimental doses. Yet even at this high level, no toxicity was demonstrated. As with all ornamental plants, poinsettias are not intended for human or animal consumption, and certain individuals may experience an allergic reaction to poinsettias. However, the poinsettia has been demonstrated to be a safe plant. In fact, in 1992, the poinsettia was included on the list of houseplants most helpful in removing pollutants from indoor air. So, not only is the poinsettia a safe and beautiful addition to your holiday decor, it can even help keep your indoor air clean.  

national poinsettia day 


By an Act of Congress, December 12 was set aside as National Poinsettia Day. The date marks the death in 1851 of Joel Roberts Poinsett, who is credited with introducing the native Mexican plant to the United States. The purpose of the day is to enjoy the beauty of this popular holiday plant. So, be sure to give someone you love a poinsettia on December 12, National Poinsettia Day! 


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