What Everyone Should Know About Poinsettias

What Everyone Should Know About Poinsettias
  • Opening Intro -

    Poinsettias are a favorite Christmas season plant, a wonderful part of any home's holiday decor.

    Did you know that poinsettias originated in Mexico and were called Cuetlaxochitl by the Aztecs?

    This plant gets its common name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico. In 1828 he found the plant that bears his name while in Mexico and the rest is history.

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What you think you know about poinsettias may not be accurate or at least should be updated to reflect current information. In any case, if you are planning to decorate your home with one or more plants this Christmas season, then the poinsettia plant should be considered.

Not poisonous — You may be under the impression that the poinsettia or at least some part of the plant is poisonous. An Ohio State University study has proven otherwise, demonstrating that the plant is not toxic. This study was first conducted in 1971 and reaffirmed in 1998. Still, the myth persists.

Tummy troubles — Although the poinsettia not poisonous, if leaves are ingested, stomach problems could occur. As far as your cat or dog eating the plant, the ASPCA says that poinsettias are “irritating to the mouth and stomach, sometimes causing vomiting, but generally over-rated in toxicity.” Certainly, children and pets shouldn’t be munching on the plant, but its toxicity has been disproven.

Botanical name — Its Aztec and American names aside, the poinsettia is known as euphorbia pulcherrima among botanists. This plant is sometimes referenced as “Christmas Star” or “Mexican Flame Tree.” It is also sometimes known the “Christmas Flower” and in South America where it is also prevalent, this beautiful plant is known as the “Crown of the Andes.” In the wild, poinsettias are a rangy shrub and can grow as high as 10-feet tall. There are more than 100 cultivated varieties of poinsettia available. Besides red, leaves in creamy white, pink and orange or some variation of these colors are possible.

Plant maintenance — Long after the Christmas season has past your poinsettia can continue to decorate your home. If you take care of it correctly, it’ll rebloom year after year. Poinsettias should be placed in a sunny window, however do not allow any part of the plant to touch cold window panes. For a long plant life, indoor temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal. Avoid high temperatures and water only when the soil is dry. If you seek to extend the plant’s blooming time, then place it in a cool room where nighttime temperatures range from 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Never fertilize the plant while it is in bloom and avoid temperature fluctuations such as cold drafts.

Poinsettias are available at garden centers, supermarkets and virtually anywhere that plants are sold. Dress up your home this Christmas season and make the beautiful poinsettia a part of your festive home!

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Categories: Garden Plants

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".