The poinsettia is one of the most popular Christmas plants in America. These plants are so associated with the Christmas; it is difficult to even own one of these plants outside the Yuletide season. In 2004, over 61 million poinsettias were sold in the U.S. That adds up to over 220 million dollars in sales.
The colorful plant parts often referred to as “flowers” actually are modified leaves called “bracts.” The yellow centers are really the “flowers.” Some poinsettias have marbled pink and white bracts; others may have pink flecks on red. Poinsettia bracts are very long lasting, providing a nice decorative plant for the holiday season.
Once you get your poinsettia home, there are a few things to remember to keep your plant looking fresh. Do not allow the leaves to touch a cold window. Place your plant in indirect sunlight, preferably in a location that receives about six hours of light a day. Avoid warm or cold drafts from radiators, air registers, or open doors and windows. The ideal temperature for this plant is 60 to 70 degrees during the day, and 55 degrees at night. Temperatures warmer than this will shorten the plant’s life. Water when the soil is dry. Make sure there are drain holes in the base of the pot and foil for water to properly flow out of the plant. Discard excess water that drains in to the saucer.
Extensive university research and laboratory testing have proven that poinsettias are not poisonous. One scientific study concluded that no toxicity occurred at ingestion levels much higher than those likely to take place in a home. The main information resource for most poison control centers states that a 50-pound child would have to ingest more than 500 poinsettia leaves to surpass an experimental dose. Still, ingesting a plant part may cause some discomfort. Some people have skin sensitivity to the white milky sap produced when a part of the plant is broken or injured. Be aware of active young children, who are apt to put just about anything in their mouths, as well as curious cats might choke on fibrous poinsettia foliage. It is a good practice to put poinsettias and all other non-edible plants out of children’s and pets’ reach.
Holiday closing schedule
The Madison County Extension Office will be closed Monday, Dec. 24 through Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. The office will reopen on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.
Educational programs of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.