Today, December 12th is National Poinsettia Day! In Mexico, the poinsettia is called La Flor de la Nochebuena or, Flower of the Holy Night. Decorate for the season with this festive plant!
Everyone wants to know, what makes the perfect poinsettia? How do I know I am buying the perfect poinsettia, and how do I take care of my poinsettia? Carefully. These beautiful Christmas flowers can be finicky and require specific growing needs in order to retain their blooms. If you properly care for your poinsettia, it should continue to bloom and remain attractive for weeks, well past Christmas!
What is a poinsettia?
Poinsettias are beautiful Christmas flowers, properly known as Euphorbia pulcherrima. Poinsettias come in a variety of colors, from red to pink, white, salmon, burgundy, and more, and have a variety of leaf shapes, including oak shaped leaves and curled leaves. The colored and green leaves on a poinsettia are actually called bracts and the true flower of the poinsettia is actually the yellow in the center of the colored bracts.
Picking the Perfect Poinsettia
When shopping for a poinsettia, there are a few key things you want to look for to find that perfect poinsettia. Choose a poinsettia that has dark green foliage, a strong central stem with lots of good branching, and look to make sure it is not dropping leaves or that the leaves are not yellowing at the bottom of the flower. You also want to look at the shape of the poinsettia and make sure that it is rounded and full. If you are shopping for a poinsettia at the beginning of the Christmas season, you want a poinsettia that is on the newer side, so that it will last and look beautiful for Christmas. If you are shopping closer to Christmas, the age of the poinsettia will not matter as much as it will continue to bloom and last for weeks. How do you tell the age of a poinsettia? Well, you certainly shouldn’t ask any poinsettia her age, just like a woman! All kidding aside, if you look at the center flower of the poinsettia, you will be able to tell the age. If the flower is closed and still green-yellow in color, the poinsettia is a newer poinsettia. If the flower is open, with red showing and the stamens sticking out, the poinsettia is an older poinsettia. Of course, you want to make sure that the bracts are bright and colorful!
How to Care for a Poinsettia
You want to give your poinsettia bright, indirect light. Make sure to keep your poinsettia in area where it will be typically semi-cool. Be sure not to place your poinsettia by a heat source or next to a working fireplace, as these areas will be too hot for your poinsettia and dry it out. On the other hand, make sure your poinsettia is not sitting somewhere drafty or where it will be touching a window, as these areas will be too cold and freeze your poinsettia. An ideal temperature range for your poinsettia is 65-70 degrees.
Be sure to water your poinsettia thoroughly. If there is a foil or tin pot cover on your poinsettia, you will want to remove this when watering your poinsettia so that you can ensure proper drainage. Do not let your poinsettia set in water. Let your poinsettia dry out between waterings.
Now, for the debated question. Are poinsettias poisonous? No. Poinsettias are not poisonous. Yes, if you dog or cat nibbles on your poinsettia, there is a good chance it will make them nausea and/or vomit, but it will not kill them.
Poinsettias are the perfect addition to any Christmas decor! Ranging in size from 2″ to 10″, the decorating possibilities are endless! Use them as a centerpiece, a hostess gift, a coffee table or end table decoration, or as a festive greeter in your indoor entryway! And have a very festive and bright holiday!