Caring for Your Christmas Blooms
One of the most delightful decorations at the Christmas season is the poinsettia. Native to Mexico and Central America, legend has it that the first poinsettia appeared from a poor child’s generosity. Laying the humble bouquet of weeds at the feet of baby Jesus, they suddenly burst into brilliant red blooms. Actually, the colorful parts of the poinsettia, the bracts, are actually leaves and the poinsettia flower is small and either green or yellow in the middle of the bracts.
When choosing a poinsettia, choose plants with completely colored and expanded bracts. Find plants with dense, plentiful foliage down to the soil line. Plants should be about two and a half times larger than their pot. Stems should be strong and stiff, not wilting.
Place your poinsettia in indirect sunlight for at least six hours per day. If direct sun can’t be avoided, diffuse the light with a shade or sheer curtain. Provide room temperatures between 68 and 70 degrees. Generally speaking, if you are comfortable, so is your poinsettia. Water thoroughly when soil is dry to the touch, but don’t let them sit in standing water. If your poinsettia sits in a plastic tray, it is best to take it out to water and then replace it after the water has drained out of the bottom of the pot. This will eliminate killing your poinsettia because it is sitting in water. Always finger check the soil before watering, a poinsettia that is too wet will wilt just like one that is too dry. Do not fertilize your poinsettia while it is in bloom, after the blooming season you can use a balanced all-purpose fertilizer.
Though dark red reigns as the traditional favorite, other colors that share the spotlight include: white, pink, and novelty colors such as orange or burgundy.
The widespread belief that poinsettias are poisonous is a misconception. A 50 pound child would have to ingest over 500 poinsettia bracts before becoming sick. As with all ornamental plants, poinsettias are not intended for human or animal consumption, and certain individuals may experience and allergic reaction to poinsettias. Poinsettias, however are included on the list of houseplants most helpful in removing pollutants form indoor air.