The Beauty of the Poinsettia Plant

Photo Credit: Alejandro Bayer Tamayo from Armenia, Colombia, via Wikimedia Commons

Poinsettia ( a member of the Euphorbiaceae botanical family) is distinguished by having a single female flower that lacks petals and frequently sepals. These sepals are surrounded by separate male blooms, and all of this is contained in a cup-shaped structure known as a cyathium. Modified leaves or bracts make up the plant’s brilliant red, pink, white, or bicolor section, commonly known as the flower.

Quick Growing Guide

Botanical Name: Euphorbia pulcherrima

Botanical Family: Euphorbiacae

Also Called: Christmas Flower

En français: Poinsettia

Colour:

Blooms:

Sun / Shade:

Water: Do not let dry out, do not overwater

Hardiness Zones:

Poinsettias are not as challenging to care for as people think. They’re popularly used during Christmas. Poinsettias have three alternatives after Christmas, their primary use:

  • Use it as cut flowers.
  • Discard it or compost it.
  • Try to encourage it to bloom the next year again.

The Popularity of Poinsettia 

The red Poinsettia plant is the most generally available, but over the past few decades, specialized Poinsettia breeders have worked diligently to produce more than 150 distinct varieties, including stunning pinks, oranges, creams, and whites. In fact, warm-toned poinsettias, such as those in apricot, rose, pink, or salmon, brighten houses as early as October.

The fact that red poinsettias sell the best of all, followed by white and cream-colored variations, undoubtedly comes as no surprise. Then come pink poinsettias, bicolored and speckled variants, and other ornamental plants.

Italian and German are two languages that have given the name “Christmas Stars” to poinsettias because they feature leaf bracts that resemble stars. They are also referred to as “Flowers of the Holy Night” in Mexico.

Flowers in Poinsettia 

The Poinsettia’s enormous, vibrant bracts, which are actually left rather than flower petals, are sometimes misinterpreted as petals. In reality, the blooms are the cyathia, or little yellow berry-like formations, found in the center of each leaf bract.

The bracts of a Poinsettia plant should be whole. If the real flowers, the little golden buds in between the colored bracts, still appear tight, the Poinsettia plant’s quality is good. The winter months of December and January are when the Poinsettia plant’s blossoms are in full bloom.

The Poinsettia has modest blossoms. They are categorized under cyathia (small yellow structures found in the center of each leaf bunch or false flowers). Although wasps have been frequently observed to visit the cyathia, little is known about how wild poinsettias are pollinated. All flowers in the Euphorbiaceae family are unisexual—they can only be male or female—and frequently rather small. In Euphorbia, the blooms are further diminished before being gathered into an inflorescence, or flower cluster.

Poinsettias excel as cut flowers thanks to their colorful bracts and lengthy shelf life. According to Stars for Europe, if you can’t keep your Poinsettia alive, cut it up and boil it for a lovely floral display. Trim off the stems below the bracts (the vibrant leaves), then immediately submerge the cut ends in cold water after briefly dipping them in boiling hot water (60 °C) to remove the white sap. With enough water, cut poinsettias can stay fresh for up to two weeks.

Use as decorative items

There are numerous other festive uses for poinsettias, despite being a lovely solitary centerpiece. They can be used to dress up a staircase and wrap around banisters, or they can lend a classic touch of elegance to a Christmas tree by tucking some Poinsettia flowers among the branches. Additionally, they create striking wreaths and a lovely centerpiece for the Christmas dinner table. Additionally, many poinsettia-themed home accents are available, including tree picks, wreaths, and garlands.

Caring for the Plant

Daily inspections of mini poinsettias are required. oinsettias require bright but indirect sunlight, about 6 hours a day and warmth. Insufficient lighting may result in the loss of leaves. The plant must be kept away from drafts, but can be kept next to a radiator. This plant may start to lose leaves if the air is too dry. Try to position poinsettias in a protected area.

Watering Poinsettia

Poinsettia is sensitive to overly moist soil and requires consistent moderate moisture. When the dirt around your Poinsettia plant is particularly dry, water it. Check the soil moisture on a daily basis, water sparingly but enough to allow water to flow from the bottom of the pot, and only when the surface of the compost begins to dry out and is dry to the touch. This may necessitate watering twice or three times per week. These plants can also be soaked from below, which more thoroughly saturates the soil than regular watering, but do not allow the pot to sit in water. In the instance of a plant near a radiator in a dry room, watering could be required every day, but in other places, it might only be every second or third day. How do you test? Lift the plant gently; if it seems light, water is needed.

Drafts and Temperature

Poinsettia is sensitive to cold and draughty conditions, such as those found near heat vents, radiators, exterior doors, and open windows. Plants should not be allowed to come into contact with cold windows. The minimum temperature required is 13-15 °C (55-59 °F). Daytime temperatures should be between 15.5 and 21 degrees Celsius (60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit). Ideally, the plant should be moved to a cooler room at night (around 13-18 °C (55-65 °F).

Propagating

Softwood cuttings can be used in May to propagate poinsettias. It is preferable to use gloves because the milky sap may sting. Due to the fact that poinsettias are typically thrown away a few weeks into the new year, no trimming or training is typically needed. However, you must prune plants in May if you intend to grow on them for a further year. Repot in the spring or remove the plant once it finishes flowering.

Buying a Poinsettia

Poinsettias stored in cold temperatures or with insufficient attention to moisture will likely deteriorate quickly. Look for aesthetic qualities such as dark green foliage down to the soil line, fully coloured leaves, and the plant’s general balance and symmetry. The flower buds should ideally be unopened; the true flowers in the cyathia should be green or red-tipped and fresh-looking; and pollen should not be covering the bracts, which would suggest over-maturity. Check for obvious health issues such as fallen or yellowed leaves, drooping or wilted branches, and insects; ties or stakes are not required. Wet soil promotes fungal problems.

Toxicity

For most of the last century, poinsettia was thought to be extremely toxic if consumed by humans or pets, but in recent decades, this view has almost entirely been disproved. Nonetheless, it is not recommended that the plant be consumed because large amounts of leaves may cause gastrointestinal upset. (In any case, there’s no reason to eat poinsettias.) Many species of contain a toxic, milky latex, and in isolated cases, the latex of poinsettia has caused rashes and asthma-like symptoms. It should be noted that several potentially toxic chemicals are used in the commercial production of poinsettia.

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