One of the traditional and most popular holiday flowers is the Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima). The delicate, yet dazzling flowers (bracts) range from huge bushes to miniatures plants and come in assorted colors that are sure to make the holiday brighter.
Choosing a poinsettia
When selecting a poinsettia look for dark healthy leaves- no yellowing bottom leaves. The bracts (leaves that work as petals) should be bright and completely colored. The true flowers are the tightly clustered, small, green or red-tipped flowers in the center of the bracts. Yellow pollen will shorten the life of the flowers. Do not choose a plant that is wilted or drooping.
Holiday Plant tip
When purchasing your Poinsettia make sure it is protected from the cold. If temperatures are below 50 degrees, wrap it in a paper sleeve or place in a box before taking it outdoors. Tropical Poinsettias are especially sensitive to cold temperatures and even a few minutes in the cold can damage the plant. Chill damage may not show up after a few days and you will be dissapointed when the leaves discolor and drop.
In order to maintain a healthy Poinsettia and longer bloom during the holiday season place the plant in bright diffused light for at least 6 hours a day, away from heating vents (hot dry air) and cold drafts. A temperature of 55-60 degrees at night and 72 during the day along with high humidity is ideal. The cool night temperatures will extend blooming time. Keep the plant evenly moist as moisture fluctuation, cold/hot drafts can cause premature leaf drop. When watering, do not let it stand in water, be sure to slip off the decorative foil cover (if there is one) or punch a hole in the cover to drain the excess water.
Contrary to belief, Poinsettias are not toxic. If you have a latex allergy, the sap from the leaves can irrate your skin. According to Poisindex, a 50# child would have to eat 500 bracts to get a stomach ache. Of course resulting reaction may vary with individuals. Poinsettia are not edible and as with all houseplants, should not to be eaten.
Have a safe and happy holiday!!