Monday, December 7, 2015

Poinsettias Bring Holiday Color and Cheer By Joyce D’Agostino

Photo CSU Co-Hort
Outside of the Christmas tree, there are few other plants that are recognized as part of the holiday season than the bright Poinsettias.
These cheerful plants originated with the Aztecs in Mexico and are now loved worldwide for bringing bright color to the dark days of winter.  At one time, only the red and some pink colors were primarily available but now due to extensive experimentation and breeding, you can find poinsettias in many sizes and colors.  Their botanical name is Euphorbia pulcherrima.a p
What is often called the petals are actually “bracts” which are actually leaves with a bright pigment.  The true flowers on the poinsettias are found in the center of the bracts. 

If you purchase or receive a Poinsettia as a gift, here’s some useful tips to help preserve them to enjoy through the season:
Put your plant in an area that gets indirect natural daylight for about six hours a day.  If they get too bright of light, then the colorful bracts can fade in color.  Poinsettias are native to the warm climates, so protect your plants from cold winter air and avoid putting them in a chilly or drafty area. Poinsettias like their soil to be moderately moist so check daily and water when the soil feels dry to the touch.  Try not to overwater where you see that your plant is sitting in standing water. Even though a foil wrapping may be attractive, it’s advisable to remove it when watering. If you wish to keep it on, just put some drainage holes in the bottom.  A balanced all-purpose fertilizer can be applied to maintain the green foliage and promote new growth after the holidays. Just follow the directions on the fertilizer label for application recommendations. 
Photo CSU
Here are a few facts about Poinsettias that may be helpful to know:
  • Poinsettias are not poisonous – while they are not edible, the plants are not poisonous when eaten. However it’s just advised that you not try to eat any parts of the plant or allow your pets to chew on them.  
  • Poinsettias are from the genus of spurge plants and may ooze a milky sap. The sap is mildly toxic. If you have a sensitivity to latex, you might develop a rash from the handling the plant or touching this sap. Pets can also develop nausea if they consume the leaves and sap.
  • December 12th is Poinsettia Day, which marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett in 1851. Poinsett was a statesman from South Carolina who was an amateur botanist. After visiting Mexico, he brought the plants back to the states to help promote them as a lovely Christmas flower. The plants were then given their common name in his honor. 
The following bulletins will provide more information and helpful tips. If you wish to have your plants reflower again next year, follow the steps outlined in the bulletin show below in the “reflowering” section and you can continue to enjoy your plants into the next year.