It wouldn’t be Christmas without the glorious poinsettia plant! These beauties are native to Mexico. The showy colored parts of the poinsettia plant are not really the flowers, but are actually bracts or modified leaves. The flowers are the small yellow buds in the center of the colorful bracts. For the longest lasting poinsettia, choose a plant with little or no yellow pollen showing.
To keep your poinsettia blooming, keep it in indirect light, out of hot or cold drafts. Water the plant thoroughly when the surface soil is dry to the touch, but do not allow it to sit in water.
Poinsettias are not poisonous! A study at Ohio State University showed that a 50-pound child would have to eat more than a pound-and-a-quarter of Poinsettia leaves (500 to 600 leaves) to have any side effects. The leaves are reportedly not very tasty, so it’s highly unlikely that kids or even pets would be able to eat that many!
Poinsettias are a member of the Euphorbiaceae family, and ooze a milky sap. Some people with latex allergies have had a skin reaction (most likely to the sap) after touching the leaves. From personal experience, we know to be careful not to get the sap in your eyes. Our Jim once ended up in the emergency room here in Pittsburgh with a scratched cornea after trimming a euphobia and then rubbing his eye!
People often ask us how to get a poinsettia to re-bloom. You can do the following:
- In spring, when the bracts fade, cut stems back to eight inches above the soil line.
- Continue to water regularly.
- Lightly fertilize with a good, balanced all-purpose fertilizer every three to four weeks.
- When temperatures are warm, place the plant outdoors; first in indirect, then direct sunlight. Avoid temperatures below 50 degrees throughout the summer.
- July 4 (Independence Day): Cut back new growth stems. Repot if needed.
- Early September (Labor Day): Move the plant inside. Provide six or more hours of direct light.
- October 1 through mid-December: Confine the plant to complete darkness for 14 hours, giving it 10 hours of natural light daily. This will set the buds and cause bracts to color.
Or…you can follow the advice our Tim posted on facebook:
First you want to put the plant in a dark closet after it loses its color. Then each week lay a quarter on the soil of the pot. Keep this routine up until a couple of weeks before Christmas. Then you’ll have saved enough money to buy yourself a new poinsettia.
Purchase these beautiful and lasting Christmas plants early, and enjoy them all season long!