The Poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima
, is a popular indoor potted plant in North America. It has become known as “The Christmas Flower," being widely available in late November and December. Poinsettias's are native to Mexico, and were introduced to the US in 1825 by Joel R. Poinsett, the first American Ambassador to Mexico. Today, there are hundreds of different varieties of Poinsettias available.
What makes the Poinsettia unique is the fact its flowers are not the brightly coloured petal-like leaves, or “bracts”, we are so fond of. In fact, the true flowers are the yellowish-green button-like objects at the center of the bracts. Fresh poinsettias will have tightly closed flowers, while older ones will have opened.
Poinsettias come in hundreds of varieties ranging from the ever popular red, the pretty in pink, the classic creamy-white and a wide range of newer marbled, speckled and tinged varieties. All share similar preferences and growing characteristics with subtle differences between varieties.
Poinsettias should be placed in areas that receive bright, but not direct sunlight. Too much sunlight can discolour the bracts. Keep Poinsettias away from cold drafts such as those from windows or outside doors. Also take precautions to keep them away from heat sources like vents, radiators and fireplaces. An average temperature of 15-21 degrees Celsius in optimal.
Poinsettias dislike moisture extremes. If the soil dries out, the plant will wilt and drop its leaves. Keeping a gravel filled pan with water underneath the plant is a good way to increase humidity. Do not overwater or allow the Poinsettia to sit in water or the leaves may yellow, drop and root rot may occur.
While Poinsettias are technically perennials, they often decline in appearance within 6-8 weeks. As a result, most people choose to discard them early in the New Year. To maintain your Poinsettia, you will need to give it regular attention. In April-May, cut back the stems to within 3-6 inches of the soil. Starting in Spring, fertilize every 3-4 weeks with a complete fertilizer. As it grows, pinch it back to encourage more growth.
In order to re-bloom in the Winter, Poinsettias require 8-10 weeks of days with less than 10-12 hours of sunlight. Regulate the amount of light it receives beginning in October to make it colour-up by Christmas. Even after all this, very few poinsettias look as good as new ones grown by professionals.
Are They Poisonous?
As a member of the Euphorbiaceae family of plants, Poinsettias ooze a milky sap that can be an irritant if contacted or ingested. Labratory tests have shown that ingestion may cause discomfort, but the plant is not poisonous to people or pets in small quantities.
Poinsettias at Art’s Nursery
At Art's Nursery, Poinsettias are generally available from late November through to the holidays. We carry a great selection of small and large sizes in either plain or dressed styles. You'll find a selection of the traditional varieties as well as many of the new, hot varieties too! Individual, bulk and corporate orders are always welcome. Give us a call if you require any more information about this wonderful plant.
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