Everywhere you look this time of year you’ll probably see wonderful poinsettia plants. (According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the standard pronunciation is poin•set•tia).
You’ll see them in malls, shops, churches, restaurants… everywhere a little Christmas color and life are wanted.
Where you won’t see them is growing in people’s yards here in New England.
Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima, a member of the spurge family) are tropical plants usually found in Central America and Mexico. In fact, the English name Poinsettia is derived from the first United States Minister to Mexico, Joel R. Poinsett, who introduced the plant to the U. S. in 1825.
We think of Poinsettias as having red flowers and green leaves, but actually, the red “petals” are also leaves called bracts. The poinsettia flowers are the little yellow berry-like buds in the center of the plant.
Today, poinsettia can be found with a dazzling array of colors not just flaming red but orange, pale green, cream, pink, white, or marbled.
When buying poinsettias, choose plants with strong stems and no sign of breakage or wilting. Bracts should be in full color with no green edges. The buds should be yellow with little or no pollen.
To preserve them throughout the season, keep your poinsettia in filtered sunlight for at least 6 hours a day with room temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees. As tropical plants, they don’t like drafts or cold. Water your plant only when the soil is dry to the touch.
While poinsettias are easy to care for, it’s a whole different ballgame to keep your plant through the year and have it bloom next Christmas. If you’re adventurous and are up to a challenge, there are plenty of places on the web that will describe how to do this.
Poisonous Poinsettias? Many people think that ingesting parts of the poinsettia plant is poisonous to cats, dogs, or kids. Most websites will tell you that this isn’t true (WebMD and the Pet Poison Hotline for example), but they do say that eating a quantity can produce forms of gastrointestinal upset (i.e., diarrhea and vomiting). So, I’m thinking that to have a happy holiday for ALL concerned, keep kids and pets away from the plants, but if a small amount gets eaten, don’t panic.
All of us here at the Power of Flowers Project wish you and your family and friends a Very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!