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Festive Christmas poinsettias care and tips

poinsettia plants
You can't think of Christmas without the ubiquitous poinsettia plant. It is the most commonly given plant for the holiday season, yet if well cared for, it can last well beyond the holidays. If you're thinking about giving a poinsettia plant (or have already been gifted with one), enjoy these tips for how to care for poinsettias.

What are poinsettia?

Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are a small shrub termed a spurge. They are native to Central and South America, with closely related dwarf wild forms growing from California to Texas. Their distinguishing feature are the bracts (commonly mistaken for flowers) and the milky sap which is exuded when the stems are damaged.

Care of your poinsettia

poinsettia plants Choosing a poinsettia plant

Look for full vibrant plants with fully coloured bracts (the false 'flowers'). If the bracts have green edges, you don't want that plant. Don't buy a poinsettia plant from a crowded display; it will wilt more quickly. Likewise, don't buy a poinsettia plant that is already wilting; it is past its prime.

Poinsettia colours

Although poinsettias have bracts in a wide variety of colours, the three most popular colours for holiday gifting are red, white, and pink. You will probably never see any other colour outside of a flower show.

12 December is International Poinsettia Day

Care of poinsettia plants

poinsettia plants Keep your poinsettia plant out of the cold. Wrap it well before taking it home from the store. They prefer temperatures between 60 to 70 degrees with somewhat cooler temperatures at night. It is considered an annual herb growing to 3 feet tall which likes moist (not wet) soil and full sun.

Tip: Only water your poinsettia plant when the soil is dry. Do not overwater it. It will wilt if overwatered since it is a desert plant.

In the off-season, the bracts will be green. Plenty of sun exposure will colour them up for the holidays.

Are poinsettias poisonous?

The plants themselves are not poisonous unless a large quantity are consumed. The sap may cause a reaction if it touches the skin, so take care when handling cut stems.

However, if you are really worried about poisoning children and pets, there is always the option of silk poinsettia plants.

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