The poinsettia is one of the most popular potted flowers in the United States. Red is the most commonly sold poinsettia color, and many of the new colors available today were developed thru breeding mutations from the red flowering plants. When describing a poinsettia flower it is interesting to note that the red color is not actually not a true flower, but are leaf bracts rather than petals. These colorful bracts surround the true flower, a small round yellow structure in the center of the bracts which is called the cyathia.
There are many forms of poinsettia plants available, ranging from dwarf, single stem, hanging baskets, tree forms and occasionally they are sold as cut flowers. Breeding efforts have developed different poinsettia colors including pink, white, marbled, pink with flecks, crimson-purple, yellow and many more color selections. There are even poinsettia plants with variegated foliage.
Poinsettia were once thought to be poisonous – but studies have shown that plant leaves, bracts, flowers and stems are not toxic to people or pets. Although some folks may have an allergy or develop rash to the milky white latex sap extruded from a cut stem, poinsettia are not poisonous. Of course if you should decide to test this yourself, by ingesting enough of the plant, you may experience a mild stomach ache.
To keep your poinsettia looking at its best this holiday season, place it in a full sun location with a temperature range between 60 and 70 degrees. Water only when soil surface feels dry to the fingertip. If potting medium becomes dried out, let the plant stand in water for about an hour. As peat moss contained in planting media will shed water when it becomes too dry, extra time is needed to rehydrate, or water will not be absorbed. Do not let water remain in the drip pan any longer and be sure to cut a hole in foil covering for draining as to prevent root rot.
Did you know? For information on keeping poinsettias for reblooming next year, this publication may be downloaded at: https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Poinsettia-Care-Reiman-Gardens or also available at your local ISU Extension Office.
Horticulture Questions? Contact McCormick at firstname.lastname@example.org for information or advice.