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Poinsettia primer: learning about and caring for the most popular holiday plant

Poinsettias

We typically think of the North Pole when it comes to Christmas, but the most popular holiday plant originates with our neighbor to the south.

Poinsettias are native to Mexico and were introduced to the United States in 1825 by Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico.

In fact, Poinsett’s death in 1851 is commemorated every Dec. 12 as National Poinsettia Day.

Some other facts:

  • The colored parts of poinsettias aren’t flowers but bracts (leaves).
  • Poinsettias have been called the lobster flower and flame leaf flower.
  • Poinsettias are not poisonous, to humans or pets: An Ohio State study found that a 50-pound child who ate 500 bracts (leaves) might have a slight tummy ache.
  • Poinsettias are commercially grown in all 50 states. For instance, the 20,000 poinsettias that Royer’s receives each year are from Lancaster County.
  • Ninety percent of all poinsettias are exported from the United States.

Source: www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/poinsettia 

HOW TO CARE FOR POINSETTIAS:

  • Average room temperature is fine; they cannot tolerate cold.
  • Bright light is best, as they originate from the warm, bright southwest and Mexico. If given ample sunlight, they’ll last well into the new year.
  • Avoid keeping a plant too wet, they like moist but not wet. Frequency and amount of water will vary depending upon amount of sun, humidity in house and pot size.

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