Poinsettias – Tips for a Featured Houseplant

Featured Houseplant | Poinsettia

This is a guest post by Alison McPherson of http://www.chucklefarm.com/

The Poinsettia

Poinsettia display at the US Botanic Garden
Poinsettia display at the US Botanic Garden.

During this time of year, I often see poinsettias dotting interior spaces, from the grocery store, to the library, to family members’ homes, to seeing them on-air during the local news. With their prevalence during the holiday season, I had never given much thought to their presence. But all of this changed when I visited the US Botanic Garden in Washington, DC on Christmas day. Upon entering the conservatory, I was greeted with beautiful poinsettia displays, from hanging baskets to potted containers, in an array of colors that gave off an air of holiday cheer.

Walking through the conservatory, engrossed in the myriad of plant specimens, I came across an educational display on the history of poinsettias. Prior to this moment, I was unaware of how this plant came about to become a holiday staple in floral displays.
Learning about its history, I wanted to share some interesting facts:
  • The poinsettia is native to the deciduous tropical forest of the Pacific coast of lower Mexico.
  • The plant’s common name refers to the first Minister to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, who sent samples of the plant back to the US in the late 1820s.
  • In July of 2002, the House of Representatives established December 12th as Poinsettia Day, marking the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett.
  • There are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias available today, where red remains the most popular color.
  • The part of the poinsettia that most people think of as the flower is actually colored bracts (modified leaves).
  • Poinsettias remain one of the best selling potted plants in the United States and Canada.

Poinsettia hanging display at US Botanic Garden
Poinsettia hanging display at the US Botanic Garden.

Poinsettia Care Instructions:
  • With good care, a poinsettia can last 6-8 weeks in your home – learn more aboutPoinsettia Care Instructions here.
  • When selecting a poinsettia, avoid those with any signs of wilting, breaking or drooping. And select one with firm stems.
  • Since poinsettias need space to flourish, be on the lookout for overcrowded store displays. This may hinder their growth and overall health.
  • When you get your poinsettia home, place it in a sunny window (ideal temperature 60°-70° F).
  • Water when soil is dry. Over-watering can cause root rot.

Variety of poinsettia displays at the US Botanic Garden

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