Poinsettias: The assigned botanical name is Euphorbia pulcherrima. The United States’ first ambassador to Mexico, Joel Robert Poinsett, sent several plants back to his home in Greenville, South Carolina in 1825. The common name, poinsettia, comes from his last name.
The poinsettia is not a poisonous plant. Research at a major university has proven that the poinsettia is not lethal to humans and pets. However, your poinsettia and all house plants should be out of reach of small children since varying degrees of discomfort may be experienced if plant parts are ingested.
Taking Your Plant Home: If you live in an area where freezing temperatures are common in December, you’ll have to provide some protection to your poinsettia when transporting it to your home. The store should provide a paper sleeve or plastic bag that you can use to cover the plant. Even so, never expose the plant to cold temperatures for more than a few minutes; a chilled or frozen plant will begin to drop leaves very quickly. Once inside, remove the protective wrapping immediately and prepare to enjoy your new poinsettia.
Taking Care of Your Poinsettia: With proper care your poinsettia will last through the holiday season and retain it bracts well into the new year. Pay close attention to the following care tips:
- Place in a room where there is sufficient natural light to read fine print but not where the sun will shine directly on the plant.
- Avoid hot or cold drafts or excess heat from appliances, radiators or ventilating ducts.
- Place the plant high enough to be away from traffic, and out of reach of unmonitored children and animals.
- Set the plant in or on a water-proof container to protect your furnishings.
- Water the plant thoroughly when the soil surface is dry to the touch. Remember to discard excess water from the saucer.
- To prolong the bright color of the bracts, temperatures should not exceed 72°F. during the day or 60°F. at night.
Reflowering Your Poinsettia: If you have a gardener’s green thumb, you may want to try your hand at reflowering your poinsettia next year. If you follow these directions very carefully, it is possible to have your poinsettia in flower by Christmas.
December: Full Bloom. Water as needed.
February: Color fades. Keep near sunny window and fertilize when new growth appears. Cut stems back to about 8″.
June 1: Repot if necessary. Fertilize according to directions. Continue to water when dry to touch. Move outside if temperatures do not fall below 50°. Place in light shade.
Late August: Take inside. Cut stems back, leaving 3 to 4 leaves per shoot. Sunny window. Water and fertilize as needed.
Sept. 20 until Dec. 1: Keep in light only from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Put in dark (no lights) 5:00 pm to 8:00 am.
Remember the Key to Success is the following the strict light/dark instructions very carefully.