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Poinsettia Care Tips From a Plant Expert

December 21, 2015

Previously known as the “Christmas Star” and “Mexican Flameleaf,” this striking bloom caught the attention of Joel Robert Poinsett, an American physician and diplomat on a trip as America’s first ambassador to Mexico. In Mexico, the plant is called “le flor de Nochebuona.” Poinsett introduced the plant to the United States, hence its common English name, “Poinsettia.”

Poinsettia Plant
In caring for a poinsettia plant, the most important things to remember are temperature, light, and watering. Poinsettias are light-loving plants. They prefer southeasterly, easterly, or western window exposure. Being tropical, they thrive in temperature of 65-70 degrees. At night, they can be moved to a cooler location, but never below 60 degrees. In northern climates, keep plants away from drafts and cold windows.

The soil of your plant should be checked daily so it is lightly moist, but never soggy or overdry. Both dryness and over-watering can cause leaves to droop or fall. A half-hour after watering, check to see that your plant is not sitting in water. If there is excessive water at the bottom, drain it off; this prevents root damage.

Watering Plant
The bright colorful leaves of a poinsettia are often mistaken for the flowers of the plant, but the actual flowers are the yellow or green that grows in the center of the colored leaf clusters.

Close up red christmas flower poinsettia.
The myth that poinsettias are toxic to pets is just that, a myth. If eaten, the plant may cause irritation to a pet’s mouth or digestive system, but there has never been a recorded report of pet fatality.

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