Poinsettias: How to Grow and Care for Poinsettia Plants
Poinsettias are a plant that just screams Christmas and the Holiday Season. They make a beautiful addition to any home's decor with their vibrant greens, reds, creams, pinks, and various other colors and color combinations. However, since these plants are so seasonal, people rarely know how to care for them or how to keep them looking vibrant, bushy, and beautiful throughout the holiday season. So, we are going to help you get to know poinsettias as beautiful plants that can be grown year-round, rather than seasonal plants that are simply thrown in the dumpster as soon as Christmas has passed.
What Are Poinsettias?
Poinsettias are sub-tropical perennial flowering shrubs that are capable of growing up to 10 feet tall in their natural environments. Scientifically, they are known as Euphorbia pulcherrima and are a part of the spurge family. In many areas where these plants are native, they are actually considered to be weeds. However, they are so popular here in the United States as holiday plants due to their bright and festive colors.
Where Are Poinsettias From?
Poinsettias are native to Mexico. They were grown by the Aztecs, who used the vibrant red bracts to make dye for clothing and other cosmetics. The sap of the plant was also used for a variety of medicinal uses, the most common being to help control fevers. Poinsettias were discovered by a man named Joel Robers Poinsett, and they were referred to by the Aztecs as "poinsettia cuetlaxochitl" (pronounced ket-la-sho-she) which meant "brilliant flower."
Can Poinsettias Be Grown Outdoors?
Poinsettias are hardy in zones 9-11. This means they can be grown outdoors in warmer climates such as Florida, Georgia, Texas, and the like. Here in Northern Colorado, our hardiness zone is either zone 5 or 6, depending on your location, with average low temperatures falling into the negatives. Such extreme cold temperatures are not suitable for growing poinsettias outdoors, which is why they are primarily grown as indoor plants.
Do Poinsettias Have Flowers?
While at first glance it may not appear that poinsettias have flowers, they actually do! Their "flowers" are simply different than most. The colored parts of the plant often have the same shape as the green leaves of the plant, leading most to believe that they are all just leaves that take on different colors. In most cases, however, the red, cream, pink, or multicolor "leaves" of the plant are actually bracts, or a sort of petal, and the small yellow flowers where the bracts connect are called cyathia and make up the center of the flower.
What Color Are the Poinsettia Flowers?
Poinsettia flowers can come in a very wide variety of colors, color combinations, patterns, and more! There are poinsettias of nearly every shade of red, poinsettia flowers made of up to 4 different colored leaves, red leaves speckled with white, cream-colored leaves, red and pink speckled leaves, and so much more. The options seem endless when it comes to the beautiful colors donned on the bracts of the poinsettia.
15 Types of Poinsettias
Here are a few of our favorite types of poinsettias! All of these poinsettias were grown right here in our very own greenhouses in Fort Collins, Colorado. During the fall and winter seasons, our greenhouses are nearly overflowing with dozens of different types of poinsettias just waiting to be put out on the shelf for Christmas. While the poinsettia varieties we carry from year to year may vary, these have been some of our favorites throughout the years.
From left to right: 1) Orange Glow Poinsettia, 2) Ruby Frost Poinsettia, 3) Ice Punch Poinsettia, 4) Jingle Bell Poinsettia, 5) White Glitter Poinsettia, 6) Autumn Leaves Poinsettia, 7) Tapestry Poinsettia, 8) Cream Poinsettia, 9) Winter Rose Red Poinsettia, 10) Marble Poinsettia, 11) Monet Poinsettia, 12) Classic White Poinsettia, 13) Marren Poinsettia, 14) Christmas Ribbons Poinsettia, 15) Christmas Party Pink Poinsettia
How To Take Care of Poinsettias
Poinsettias are plants that are primarily bought to decorate during the holiday season and are often discarded once the holidays are over. Because of this, many people don't care for poinsettias in a way that ensures they will stay looking bold and beautiful. Even though poinsettias are more festive than most other houseplants, there is no reason not to discard the foil they come wrapped in, repot them in something less festive, and add them to your houseplant collection! Even if you aren't wondering how to keep poinsettia year round, you will still want to be aware of a few care requirements if you want to keep these plants looking happy and healthy through Christmas and into the New Year.
How Much Sun Do Poinsettias Need
Poinsettias prefer bright indirect light. Direct sun exposure will either burn the leaves or cause enough stress to the plant that it simply starts dropping leaves and bracts. Low light conditions can cause stunted growth or dulled colors in the bracts.
How To Water Poinsettias
Poinsettias prefer their soil to be kept slightly moist. Water your plant when the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry to the touch. Overwatering can cause more harm than good, so be careful not to water it if the soil is still damp!
How Do You Get a Poinsettia to Rebloom?
Poinsettias, just like any houseplants will only bloom if the conditions are just right. The holiday season is not necessarily the most natural time of year for poinsettias to be blooming. Most of the time, they require a somewhat specific ratio of light to darkness in order to encourage blooming, and they will not bloom until this ratio is met. Long periods of darkness is actually what triggers flower formation. Poinsettias also experience a state of dormancy after they bloom similar to other holiday flowers such as Amaryllis bulbs. If you would like to learn more about how to get your poinsettia plant to rebloom, let us know! There is a lot of information to share and we are happy to help you through the process.
Are Poinsettias Poisonous?
It used to be thought that poinsettias were highly poisonous, but they actually are quite harmless to both children and animals! A study conducted by POISINDEX® Information Service, the main source used by the majority of poison control centers, found that a 50-pound child would have to ingest over 500 poinsettia bracts to harm themselves. They could potentially cause mild discomfort if ingested but are not toxic on a fatal level.
How To Keep Poinsettias Year Round
Keeping your poinsettia happy year-round is just like keeping any other houseplant happy throughout the year. Make sure it is planted in a quality, well-draining soil. Fertilize it periodically throughout the growing season, prune it accordingly, keep it away from drafty windows or air vents, and give it the light and water it needs, and you should have a healthy, thriving plant!