Poinsettias are everywhere this time of year! Did you know that the beautiful plant we associate with Christmas is actually native to Mexico and Central America where it grows in wooded ravines and along rocky hillsides?
What we refer to as the poinsettia's "flowers" are actually colored bracts, or specialized leaves that surround the actual flower which is the tiny clutter of yellowbuds.
There is debate around the poisonous nature of the plants. The milky secretion found in the stems and leaves can certainly can be mildly irritating to humans and animals alike, but medical research has solidly disproved the old rumors that poinsettias are highly toxic if ingested by pets or people. The belief appears to stem to a 1919 report that two children of an US Army officer died after ingesting poinsettia leaves. The story was later determined to be hearsay.
"Contrary to popular belief, poinsettia plants aren't poisonous." Jay L. Hoecker, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic
It is amazing how rumors a hundred years old can become so solidly rooted as "fact."
Care for your poinsettia:
Place in moderate, indirect sunlight (6 hours per day)
Avoid placement near cool drafts or doorways...as well as heat sources like stoves or vents.
Keep temperature between 65-70 degrees
Avoid exposure to temperatures below 50 degrees
Water when soil feels dry to touch
Cover your poinsettia with a roomy plastic bag or wrap provided by your florist when transporting
Do not fertilize your poinsettia while it is in bloom