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Poinsettias Are Not Poisonous!

The poinsettia is not only nonpoisonous, it is considered to be non-toxic as well. According to the national information center for poison control centers, even large amounts-- 500-600 leaves--

Some people are mildly allergic to the sap of all poinsettia relatives, just as many people are to other forms of latex. Latex is the primary component of the white sap.

However, poinsettias are not considered edible either, so use common sense and keep plants out of the reach of young children and pets. This goes for all indoor plants, not just the poinsettia.

Poinsettias are grown traditionally as pot plants for use in the home during the Christmas holiday season. However, poinsettias are often used as landscape plants in south and central Florida.

Poinsettias are woody perennials and when grown outdoors, usually begin blooming (bracts showing color) as early as Thanksgiving. The colorful bracts are retained until March or even later unless the plants are exposed to freezing temperatures.

Barely a decade ago, the poinsettia did not retain its bracts for more than a few days when placed indoors. As the result of intensive breeding programs, poinsettia cultivars of today have excellent foliage and bract retention and a diversity of leaf patterns, growth habits and bract colors. The new cultivars have developed to such an extent that they can compete with many of the flowering plants used in the Florida landscape.

Selection

Poinsettias are traditionally grown as Christmas pot plants, and breeders have been concerned with improving them for this purpose. They worked to produce a fast-growing, compact pot plant which would retain its leaves and bracts under the less-than-favorable conditions found in the home.

Caring for Your Holiday Poinsettia Indoors

Each holiday season, the number one flowering plant sold in America is the Poinsettia. There is always some confusion about the best way to care for and display this popular plant. The following are some tips for getting the most from a Poinsettia during the holidays.

Care of Poinsettias in the Home

• Location - Keep plants in a warm location free of drafts and chilling. Bright light is always best, but avoid placing plants in extremely sunny, hot, and dry situations.

• Watering - Water a poinsettia, when the soil is dry to the touch. Remove any excess water from the saucer beneath the plant, as Poinsettias do not like to have soggy soil. Most people kill their poinsettias with too much water. Remember this plant came from the tropical desert and in more tolerant of dry conditions than of wet.

• Humidity – Poinsettias like a little bit higher humidity than the average household but will do fine in most situations without additional humidity. Misting plants or placing them on gravel tray will prolong the color and life of the poinsettia.

• Fertilization – It is not necessary to fertilize your poinsettia during the holiday season. In fact, high levels of fertilizer will reduce the quality of the plant. If you want to keep your poinsettia past the holiday season, see the section on caring for your plants after the holidays.