Poinsettias

When we see Poinsettias most of us naturally think of the Christmas holidays. A single potted Poinsettia has the ability to make any room festive – from a messy college dorm to an austere auto body reception area. Multiple pots of red, pink and/or white Poinsettias create instant holiday decor for bank lobbies, government offices, museums and other public buildings. I usually purchase one or two every winter to admire and enjoy in my home. (A common myth is Poinsettias are poisonous. While their milky sap may cause skin irritation in some allergic persons and accidental consumption of the plant may cause an upset stomach in kids and pets, exposure is typically not serious.)

I personally prefer the traditional deep red Poinsettias, but I believe the white, pink and new marbled varieties look amazing in certain settings. White poinsettias look classy in a neutral room or a room filled with predominately gold Christmas decorations. The pink and marbled varieties compliment rooms adorned in pastel hues or blue and silver toned decor. And, most recently the stores have offered Poinsettias sprayed with glitter – adding a little extra bling to the season.

Of course, I normally wouldn’t recommend spraying glitter or anything toxic onto a beautiful plant, but Poinsettias are plentiful, relatively inexpensive and have been hybridized to the point they may or may not return in following years with the same vibrant color. Thus, I treat them as “annuals” or “seasonal” interior plants.

As such, below are a few tips to keep your seasonal plants happy:

·  Place your potted Poinsettias in bright or sunny areas if possible.

·  Indoor temperature around 70°F is ideal for long plant life.

·  Avoid severe temperature fluctuations and warm or cold drafts.

·  Water only when the soil is dry.

·  Do not fertilize when the Poinsettia is in bloom.

If you are up to retaining your Poinsettias after the holiday season, you should certainly give it a try! First of all, remember that due to hybridization, your subsequent plants may not “bloom” quite as vibrantly as before. Also of importance is the fact that what we consider as the blooms of Poinsettias are actually their modified leaves, also known as bracts. The true flowers of the Poinsettia are the small yellow centers of the red (or otherwise colored) bracts. As such, Poinsettias make attractive, GREEN, potted plants that can be placed outdoors in temperate zones after the last frost of spring. They enjoy sun, but should be placed where they will receive afternoon shade during the summer months. As fall approaches, the plants should be moved back inside. Secondly regarding blooms, Poinsettias are perennial tropical natives to Mexico and, like the Christmas Cactus, are photoperiodic. This means their blooming (or leaf-turning) is dependent upon them receiving just the right amount, or lack, of light. Eight weeks prior to blooming season, Poinsettias require 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness per night. You can accomplish this by moving the plant to a dark room or closet to mimic their light requirements, however be careful to treat with “kid gloves” for again, like the Christmas Cactus, Poinsettias can be finicky when it comes to their environment.

I have to admit when you enter my home, you are met with at least 25 -30 live plants throughout my abode. Off the top of my head, I have a Ficus Tree, numerous Philodendrons, English Ivy, Coleus, Sansevieria, Dieffenbachia, several varieties of Dracaenas, and a Gerbera Daisy In addition, I have one deep red Poinsettia as the centerpiece on my dining room table.

I admit, I simply am not a fake flower or fake plant person . . . until it comes to Poinsettias, that is. I love to decorate my Christmas Tree with them!

In years’ past, I would place Poinsettia stems strategically on my Christmas Tree after having adorned it with ornaments. I focused not only on balancing the decor of the tree, but on filling in the bare spots that allowed a person to look through to the trunk. Red is my favorite color, so I fell in love with this practice. This year, having tired of my usual tree topper, I decided to go easy on placing Poinsettias in the body of the tree and instead, I created a bouquet of Poinsettias as my topper. Needless to say, I am very pleased and next year, I may spring for a few more Poinsettia stems to make it even more full!

Well, I hope that no matter your religious persuasion, you choose to brighten your home and/or workplace during this gray winter season by adorning it with a colorful Poinsettia or two. After all, December 12th is National Poinsettia Day! -And if you are up for the challenge, I wish you much success in keeping them around for many more National Poinsettia Days to come.

In my research for this post, I came across a wonderful and very comprehensive site from the University of Illinois. For more detailed information about the beautiful Poinsettia and its history, see http://urbanext.illinois.edu/poinsettia/index.cfm.


Until next time –
Cindy

Originally published 2012


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