Poinsettias: Selection and Care

The lovely potted poinsettia has become associated with holiday decorating. It adds a bit of glamour and festivity to one’s home during this time of year.The native Mexican plant brought to the by Joel Roberts Poinsett is the number one selling flowering potted plant. Poinsett became acquainted with the beautiful red flowering plant while Ambassador to from 1825-1829 and imported the plant to grow on his South Carolina Plantation.

How to select a Poinsettia:

Look for fully colored and extended bracts (the colorful part of the poinsettia) which come not only in the traditional red, but also, white, pink, peach and speckled. Look also for dense green foliage all along the stem portion of the plant. An abundance of dark green foliage indicates a healthy plant.

The shape and appearance of the plant should be pleasing from all angles. The traditional standard is the plant should be 2 �½ times taller than the diameter of the pot.

Select a plant with stiff stems and no loose bracts or leaves. There should be no wilting, drooping, or breaking. The soil of the plant should not be waterlogged. After purchasing the plant, protect the plant from chilling winds and temps below 50 degrees.

Caring for the Indoor Plant

Select a suitable location with indirect natural daylight of at least 6 hours exposure. Temperatures during the day should not be above 70 degrees. Do not place near excess heat or cold, such as near a fireplace.

Poinsettias require moist soil. Water the plant when the top of the soil feels dry. Allow the water to seep through the soil onto a saucer and then discard the excess. Do not permit the plant to sit in standing water. There is no need to fertilize when the plant is in bloom.

Outdoor Placement

In milder climates, the plant may be place outdoors on a patio or porch as long as temperatures do not go below 55 degrees. Also, keep sheltered from strong winds and rain.

Interesting facts about the Poinsettia

In nature, poinsettias, a perennial flowering shrub can grow up to 10 feet.

Poinsettias are not poisonous. A study conducted by Ohio State University found that a 50 pound child who after eating 500 bracts might have a slight tummy ache.

During the holiday season, poinsettias account for 85% of the sales of potted plants costing over $220 million dollars. California is the top producing state of the flowering plant.

Most Americans, over 74%, prefer red poinsettias.

Congress authorized December 12 as National Poinsettia Day to commemorate date of death of Joel Roberts Poinsett who introduced the flowing plant.

Mexican Legend of the Poinsettia

Two children, Maria and her brother Pablo, who were very poor, looked forward to Church Christmas festival. They enjoyed the parades and the manger scene that was set up in the church. They were too poor to have money for gifts and were saddened that they could not buy something for the Baby Jesus. One Christmas on their way to the church, the children stopped along side the dirt road and picked weeds to take to the manger as their gift. Of course, the other children made fun of Maria and Pablo who knew that they had given as they could. As they set the seeds around the manager, the green leaves turned into bright red star-shaped petals.

Decorating with Poinsettias:

For an unusual centerpiece, use a footed clear glass bowl and fill the bottom with colored marbles. Add water and cut float a cut poinsettia stem in the bowl.

Place mini poinsettias in wine glasses and place on the table or mantle for a unique display.

For the mantle of the fireplace, place a potted poinsettia on each side and weave pine/balsam fir pieces around the plants. Use a string of battery operated lights to decorate the fir pieces.

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