11December 12, 2012

At this time of the year, the plant that is associated with the holiday season is the poinsettia. There are all kinds of misconceptions associated with the plant and there are misconceptions on why the plant won’t grow in some people’s home. Let me tell you a bit about the poinsettia.

Every year, I have customers who tell me that they would like to have a poinsettia in their home but since they have a child they won’t have a poinsettia in the home because poinsettias are fatal if the child eats some of the leaves. The story about a child eating poinsettia leaves and dying from eating the leaves is an Old Wives tale that has been circulating for years. There are no documented cases of a child eating poinsettia leaves and dying from eating the leaves. If having a child in the home is keeping you from buying a poinsettia, rest your fears and get yourself a poinsettia.
People are also afraid that pets eating the poinsettia leaves will be harmed. Over the years, I have asked that question to numerous veterinarians an all feel that the animal will eat the leaves and then throw up the leaves. Again, having pets in the house is not a reason for not having a poinsettia in the house.

Next, let’s talk about the care of poinsettias. The plant is native to the tropical climates of Mexico. It prefers temperatures in the 60’s. Poinsettias need bright light in order to be happy. If you are wondering if the plant is getting enough light in a certain spot in your home, try this test. Place the plant where you would like it to be in your home. Hold your hand about a foot above the plant. Move your hand back and forth above the plant. If your hand is casting a distinct shadow on the plant, then the light is bright enough to keep the plant happy.
Poinsettias don’t like to be in drafty areas. Being in a drafty area will cause leaf drop.
Watering a poinsettia is also a confusing issue. The plant should be allowed to dry a bit and then when it is watered, the water should be of a sufficient amount to allow water to drain out the bottom of the pot. If the plant is in a foil wrap, remove the foil wrap when you are watering the plant. If you don’t, the water will pool in the foil wrap. A poinsettia that sits in water will eventually be a dead poinsettia. Always drain any water from the foil, saucer or basket into which the plant will sit.

Well, that is a quick overview on the misconceptions and care of poinsettias.
That’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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