All About: The Poinsettia Plant
The classic Christmas bloom, these showy plants have a couple surprises in store for us!
First: some history..... Original to Mexico, the poinsettia is a common household perennial shrub that can grow up to 15 feet tall! This plant was first brought to the United States by Dr. Joel Poinsett. He was a botanist, physician and the first US Ambassador to Mexico. Today, the plant is known in Mexico as "La Flor de la Nochebuena" or Flower of the Holy Night.
They Get a Bad Rap
The poinsettia is often described as poisonous. And while you or your pet may get a stomach ache or nausea from eating large quantities of the plants, it's not considered dangerous. In fact, an Ohio State study showed that a 50 pound child would have to eat more than 500 leaves before harmful effects would start. This plant is part of the Euphorbia family and produces a sap that can cause a slight rash, especially for those with latex allergies. Wash your hands if you get sap on them just to be safe.
They come in many colors
The plants have also been called the "lobster flower" and the "flame-leaf flower" due to their bright red hue. With development and cross-breeding, there are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias today. Other than the traditional red these showy plants also come in white, yellow, cream, shades of pink, burgundy, marbled and speckled varieties. Call Bloom to check availability, our local grower produces six or seven different colors every year! Or order one online for pick up or delivery HERE.
The poinsettia was largely developed in the US by one grower; Paul Ecke Jr. He was considered the "father" of the poinsettia industry and developed a secret technique that caused every seedling to branch, resulting in a much fuller plant. The secret breeding method has since become public, but the Ecke Ranch in California still grows over 70% of all poinsettias purchased in the US.
The leaves are the pretty part
The colorful "flowers" of the poinsettia are actually modified leaves, or bracts. The flowers are actually the small yellow buds in the very center of those bracts. In an outdoor environment, the plant drops its bracts after those flowers pollinate. The colors of the bracts are created by carefully controlling the lighting conditions of the poinsettias. The bracts grow green and require at least 5 consecutive days of 12 hours of darkness for them to change colors. This makes them the perfect winter flower as days get shorter! After the bracts have changed, abundant bright light will keep the color vibrant.
Keep your poinsettia happy and healthy with these care tips!
Lighting: Poinsettias prefer bright in-direct sunlight. Place your plant near a south, east or west window - but not so close as to catch a draft.
Temperature: These tropical plants prefer a 65-70 degree room. Be sure to cover poinsettias if you are transporting them outside in chilly weather; the plants are sensitive to anything less than 50 degrees. A cold winter day will kill a poinsettia quickly.
Water: These plants prefer consistent moisture, so water when the soil feels just dry to the touch or the pot feels a bit light. You don't want your plant to get so dry that it starts to wilt.
Remove the pot from any exterior wrap or basket and allow it to drain well. You may need to water your poinsettias 2-3 times per week depending on the temperature and humidity of your home.
Poinsettias will continue to show color all season long. Some plant parents move their plants to a sunny window or even a shady outdoor spot during the warmer months. (But we won't judge you if you just compost it after Christmas ;) Either way, this beautiful plant has a permanent place in our holiday-loving hearts!