Poinsettia: America’s Most Popular Flowering Potted Plant

Poinsettias are abundant over the holiday season. They make great hostess gifts and are often used in holiday decorating. The problem with poinsettias is that once the holidays are over they often end up in the trash with the wrapping paper and bows. But this doesn’t need to be the fate of this beautiful desert plant.

To get the most out of your poinsettia they should be kept out of hot or cold drafts, this means avoiding placing them near exterior doors and heating/cooling vents. The soil should be moist but not mushy, for best results let the soil dry out before watering. Poinsettias do best in rooms with temperatures around 60 to 70 degrees and natural sunlight.

Poinsettias can also be re-bloomed with proper care and a bit of luck, to be enjoyed for many seasons. When the poinsettia’s bracts turn a muddy green cut the plant back to about 8 inches tall. Continue to water and begin fertilizing biweekly. Once summer hits, repot the plants in fresh potting soil. At this point you can move the plant outdoors, to a spot where it will receive morning sun. Continue watering and the biweekly fertilizing. Prune plants as needed to keep it bushy and compact. Stop fertilizing in early fall and move indoors. Beginning October 1st place the plant in a dark room (basement, windowless garage or closet) or place them under a box for 14-16 hours of complete darkness a day. The poinsettia should develop colorful bracts six to 10 weeks later, just in time for the holidays.

Poinsettia's selling season is only about 6 weeks.

Interesting Facts About Poinsettias.

- Scientific name is Euphorbia pulcherrima

-Native to Mexico

-Aztecs used to make a dye from the bracts

-Part of the Euphorbiaceae family

-The milky sap can irritate the skin or cause an upset stomach if consumed in large quantities

-Poinsettias are not poisonous

-Named for Joel Poinsett, 1st US Ambassador to Mexico

-Joel Poinsett introduced the United States to the Poinsettia in 1825

-85% of potted plants sold during the holiday season are Poinsettias

-California is the top poinsettia producing state

-There are over 100 poinsettia varieties

-December 12 is National Poinsettia Day, in honor of Joel Poinsett who died that day in 1851

-Red is the most popular color with 80% of Americans preferring it

-Over 60 million sold yearly

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