Showcasing poinsettias at Christmas time has long been an American tradition, even though the plants are native to Mexico. What we think of as the large petaled, red flowers are actually modified leaves called bracts. The true flowers are the tiny ones in the middle. Today they come in a wide array of colors from shades of red, orange, pink, yellow and white. Some varieties even have cream and green variegated leaves.
Choose Healthy Plants from the Start
When you shop for a poinsettia plant, make sure they aren’t situated too close to the door of the store, where they are repeatedly exposed to warm and cold air. Cold temperatures can easily harm these tropical plants. Check the foliage to see that it looks healthy and the inner bracts are a solid color, not showing any green. That would mean that they are nearly finished flowering. Lastly, before leaving the store make sure it’s in a sleeve or put another bag over the top of it so that it won’t freeze on the way to the car.
Give Poinsettias Proper Care at Home
As you can imagine, these tropical plants like lots of sunshine. Put them in your brightest window but not touching the glass, as it can be quite cold. Keep them away from drafts both warm and cold. Water your poinsettia when the soil feels dry on the surface. Check the soil regularly, as the indoor air can be warm and dry in the winter. Natives of a humid climate, they will definitely appreciate being misted now and then. Like most house plants, they don’t like to be in standing water. Check to see if the foil liner allows water to drain freely and cut it open if not.
Stay Safe Around Poinsettias
Poinsettias are known for being toxic to pets and humans. However, in reality you would have to ingest a very, large amount to become ill. The white sap can be a skin irritant. Wash your hand well if you get any sap on them. It’s always best to set them up high away from kids and pets and that’s probably where you’d put them anyway so, they don’t get knocked over.
Buy A New One For Next Year
One last thought, think of your poinsettia as an annual plant and plan on buying a new one next year. It’s a tricky business to get them to bloom again that involves a strict light and dark regime. Even very short periods of light at night for instance, from a street lamp can prevent them from blooming.
Can’t get enough holiday plants? Check out this video on caring for your Christmas Cactus.