Are you thinking of brightening your home with a poinsettia for the holidays? Or, perhaps you’ve already fallen in love with one and brought it home. Either way, the poinsettia is a lovely plant both for Christmas and year-round, if you choose to keep it, as it’s perfectly capable of living a long life. Plus, caring for a poinsettia plant indoors is easy-peasy. Here’s how to care for poinsettias!
Poinsettia Care Instructions
1. Choose a healthy plant. If you don’t have your poinsettia yet, be sure to pick a healthy one. Signs of health include thick, deep green foliage and firm, colorful flowers.
2. Protect it from the cold when you bring it home. While our North Carolina winter is milder than many, the cold from outdoors could still be a shock to your poinsettia, which is a tropical plant native to Mexico. So when you take it home, protect it from that cold outdoor air by covering it with a cellophane bag or pillowcase.
3. Put it in a sunny, warm place. Like real estate, poinsettia care is all about location, location, location. Once you get your plant home, put it in a spot that’s both sunny and warm.
4. Meet its sun and light requirements. The poinsettia prefers a minimum of 6 hours of bright sunlight each day. A pro tip: to get the Christmas-time bloom period to last as long as possible, also ensure that your poinsettia gets at least 12 hours of darkness each night. An easy way to remember to meet this requirement is to put the poinsettia in a dark place when the sun sets and return it to its sunny location when the sun rises.
5. Meet its warmth requirements. As already mentioned, the poinsettia is quite sensitive to cold. It’s happiest when it’s in a consistently warm room free of cold drafts and hot drafts, so keep it away from places like the ledge of a drafty window or radiators. Its ideal daytime temperature range is 64 to 70°F, while at night, it’s still fine if the temperature dips as low as 61°F.
6. Water it only when the soil is dry. Poinsettias often fall victim to overwatering. If your poinsettia has leaves turning yellow, that’s a strong sign you’re overwatering the plant. Water your poinsettia only when the surface of its soil has become bone-dry.
When you water it, immediately empty any water that collects in the plant pot saucer, as waterlogged soil is harmful to the plant. One efficient way to prevent waterlog and make the watering process easier is to put the saucer aside, move the plant into the sink, and water it generously. The excess water will then drain out directly into the sink, and you won’t have to fuss with emptying the saucer.
What About Poison Precautions?
Now, what about the stories of poinsettias being poisonous? Is there anything you should do to protect pets and kids from your poinsettia? As it turns out, poinsettias are not poisonous—that’s a myth. However, they’re not edible either, and in fact, are mildly toxic. So even though they’re unlikely to cause serious illness, it’s still best to keep your poinsettia out of the reach of pets and kids.
How to Care for Poinsettia Flowers
Before we answer this, first, an interesting fact: what you might think of as the flower on a poinsettia is not a flower. The colorful non-green parts of a poinsettia are actually bunches of modified leaves called bracts. In the center of the bracts are the diminutive flowers, which look like tiny yellow buds.
So how do you make those bracts last as long as possible?
Holiday Plants at Carolina Seasons Nursery
Whether you’re in the market for a poinsettia or looking for other holiday plants, we have lots available. Contact us so we can check our stock for you and recommend plants that will meet your needs. Happy Holidays!
Before we answer the question, let's start by saying that the number of common houseplants considered toxic might actually surprise you. And just like you wouldn't ingest your other household decorations, it's pretty common sense not to nibble on your houseplants.
Now, we get it—children and pets are a little harder to reason with when it comes to doing dangerous things. While they'll generally live and learn, in most cases, you definitely wouldn't want to keep anything potentially harmful within their reach. Still, there are myriad ways to keep houseplants out of the way, such as placing them on a high shelf or a hanging basket—and let's face it, this might be a good idea even if the plants aren't toxic!
The truth is, poinsettias are NOT poisonous. While they may cause irritation and are by no means edible, ingesting them does not have serious consequences.
The Myth of Poisonous Poinsettias
For years, people have believed that these vibrant plants were dangerously toxic and have repeated the warning that "just one leaf can kill a child." But if no one has ever hurt themselves from ingesting the plant, then where did this unfounded fear come from?
One of the more obvious reasons is the word association between "poinsettia" and "poison"—the similarity between the two words might lead people to assume they're connected. However, the plants are actually named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, who introduced them to the United States after being appointed the first U.S. Minister to Mexico. Poinsettias are also commonly grouped with other holiday plants like holly and mistletoe. These seasonal plants are known to be toxic, leaving our favorite Christmas centerpieces guilty by association.
The most accepted source of the myth is from a report from a hundred years ago that a child passed away after eating one of the plant's leaves. This was nothing more than an assumption based on the fact that the child was found near a wild poinsettia plant. Nevertheless, the rumor quickly spread throughout the scientific community, leading doctors to support these claims for many, many years.
Finally, researchers at Ohio State University discovered the truth in 1971 during a study on the plant's toxicity. When trying to pinpoint what a poisonous dose might be, they ended up reaching extraordinary high doses before concluding that the plant isn't actually toxic at all.
Adverse Effects of Poinsettia Plants
Let's be clear—just because something isn't poisonous, does not make it edible. Though poinsettia leaves are harmless, they aren't something you want to grow in your veggie garden or add to your salads. They still have a very low level of toxicity that can cause some irritation when they're touched or ingested. Although these symptoms are pretty self-limiting and rarely require medical attention, you should still take steps to keep them out of little bellies.
If your cat or dog ate poinsettia, here are some of the symptoms to watch for before calling the vet:
Our advice is to go ahead and decorate your home for the holidays with poinsettias, knowing they're just as safe to have around your loved ones as most other houseplants! If you have particularly curious pets and are more comfortable keeping your plants out of their reach, they'll be just as happy on a high shelf or in hanging planter by the window. Either way, don't hesitate to make Carolina Seasons your first stop for poinsettias in Greenville.
Carolina Seasons Nursery