Coming in many colors and sizes, poinsettias are clearly one of the most popular Christmas plants available today. It's no surprise. The plant provides a beautiful Christmas flower and has been admired in the United States since Joel Poinsett brought the plant into the country from Mexico the early 1800's.
Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not poisonous to children or pets, however, the sap can cause some minor skin irritation to some people. These plants have been widely tested for toxins, and are proven to be safe, but it's still not recommended to be in close contact.
Choosing a Poinsettia
With so many varieties available, you should have no problem finding a poinsettia plant that's right for you. In time, you will learn how to find the perfect one. Look for one with vibrant color and plentiful blooms. These are the most valuable of plants. Choose dark green foliage and avoid sagging leaves, which indicates that the plant is old and not very healthy.
Check for signs of disease which can include yellowing, mold, or fungus. Examine the plant for insects and bugs. Check the soil and roots if possible for signs of over-watering. The cluster of yellow buds in the center of the colored bracts are actually the flowers. Tight buds indicate freshness and ensures the plant will last throughout the holiday season before wilting.
If you are one of those who like to purchase a poinsettia every year for the holidays, you should know some basic care for the plant.
1) These plants are very sensitive, so don't expose it to extreme temperatures. Always cover them in plastic when transporting them in cold weather, and keep them away from drafts and heat sources.
2) Place the plant in filtered or indirect sunlight for about 6 hours a day. If it is not autumn, you can keep it in relative darkness for the rest of the day and eventually, it will think it is autumn and begin blooming.
3) Water the plant only when the soil is dry. To avoid root-rot, utilize drain holes.
4) Repot the plant as it grows and add fertilizer after the blooming season.
5) You can place poinsettias outdoors when the average low temperature does not fall below 65°.
If you don't have a green thumb, consider one of the silk varieties available today. While it's not the real deal, it's the next best thing.