Poinsettias are classic icons of the holiday season. No doubt you have received or given one as a gift before. Most people decorate with them or set them out and then throw them away when they don’t look good anymore. But did you know that you can keep a poinsettia growing indoors or out so that it lives to see another Christmas?
Poinsettias are evergreen perennials of the Euphorbia family. New forms are available in recent years, from the classic single red to greenish-white varieties. While they have earned a reputation as difficult growers, modern varieties have become easier to maintain.
Are poinsettias poisonous? The milky sap is not poisonous to humans, but some people find it mildly irritating to the skin or stomach. However, the sap that is known to be toxic to pets, so it’s best to keep them out of Fido or Kitty’s reach.
To care for a poinsettia, keep it in a sunny window and avoid sudden temperature changes. Avoid drafty places or a spot where your plant will be blown on by a heater or fireplace.
Only water when the plant starts to wilt, and be sparing when you do so. Double-check the soil to be sure it’s dry before you water, and don’t soak the plant. It’s also important to avoid letting water stand in the saucer. Too much moisture will cause your plant to get sick. However, if you keep it happy with the right watering routine and some fertilizer, your poinsettia should stay in bloom until June.
Forcing Poinsettia Blooms for Christmas Flowers
To trick your plant into producing that brilliant color by Christmas, you’ll need to start in October. Move the plant to a dark closet each night for 14 hours, for example from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. In the mornings, move the plant to the light for a maximum of 10 hours. Continue this process for 10 weeks.
Poinsettias in the Garden
You can plant your poinsettia outside in a container or in the ground, where it will grow to be a medium to large shrub. Wait to pllant until the danger of frost is gone and trim the plant back to develop a fuller plant.
Outdoor poinsettias like full sun, but need to be protected from frost. A spot against a sunny wall or in a sheltered corner is perfect. Since holiday blooms are forced, left to its own devices you’ll most often see the colorful display of flowers mid-summer.