Get to Know Poinsettias
Get to Know Poinsettias
Poinsettias are a longstanding holiday favorite, with between 70 million and 80 million sold for the holidays. While the standard three- to six bloom red poinsettia is the most popular, there are several other sizes, shapes and colors available.
Colors can range from creamy white to shades of pink and orange to the traditional red. Also available are marbled bracts of pink and white as well as pink flecks on red. Poinsettias can be purchased in miniature sizes, trees, hanging baskets and even as fresh cut flowers.
Poinsettia Care Tips
Poinsettias are one of the longest-lasting blooming plants available to consumers. To choose the perfect poinsettia:
• Pick a plant with small, tightly clustered buds in the center
• Look for crisp, bright, undamaged foliage
• Avoid plants displayed in drafty or crowded areas
To keep the poinsettia blooming:
• When surface soil is dry to the touch, water thoroughly. Discard excess water in the saucer.
• To prolong color, keep a temperature range of 60 degrees for night and 72 degrees for day. High humidity is preferable.
• Place plant away from hot or cold drafts, and protect from cold winds.
Poinsettia Toxicity Myth
The Poinsettia is the most widely tested consumer plant on the market today, proving the myth about the popular holiday plant to be false.
• Scientific research from The Ohio State University has proved the poinsettia to be nontoxic to both humans and pets. All parts of the plant were tested, including the leaves and the sap.
• According to POISINDEX, the national information center for poison control centers, a child would have to ingest 500-600 leave in order to exceed the experimental doses that found no toxicity.
• The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that keeping this plant out of the reach of pets to avoid stomach upset is a good idea, however pet owners need not fear the poinsettia and banish it from their homes for fear of fatal exposure.
• As with any non-food product, however, the poinsettia is not meant to be eaten and can use varying degrees of discomfort; therefore, the plant should be kept out of the reach of young children and curious pets.
Poinsettias were first introduced to the United States in 1825 by Joel Robert Poinsett, amateur botanist and first ambassador to Mexico. He introduced the plant to the United States when he brought some cuttings to his plantation in Greenwood, South Carolina.
December 12 is National Poinsettia Day, an official day set aside to enjoy this symbol of holiday cheer. It was established upon the death of Mr. Poinsett to honor him and the plant he made famous. He died in 1951.
Poinsettias are native to Mexico, where they grow wild. The enchanting legend of the poinsettia dates back several centuries, to a Christmas Eve in Mexico when a little girl named Pepita had no gift to present the Christ child. Her cousin Pedro urged her to give a humble gift. So, on her way to church she gathered some weeds she found along the road. As she approached the altar, a miracle happened: The weeds blossomed into brilliant flowers. Then they were called Flores de Noche Buena - Flowers of the Holy Night. Now they are called Poinsettias.
To rebloom for the next season:
• During winter, continue to follow holiday upkeep tips.
• March 17 (St. Patrick's Day): When 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 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 plant inside. Provide six or more hours of direct light.
• October 1 through mid-December: Confine 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.
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24 East Main Street, Belleville, Illinois 62220
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