Poinsettias are a classic holiday plant used to decorate homes from November to December. When South Carolinian Joel Poinsett, the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, introduced the poinsettia to the United States in 1825, it is doubtful he had any idea how popular this plant would become.
The brightly colored bracts (modified leaves) of the poinsettia are often called flower petals. The true flowers are very small and found in the center of the colorful bracts. When kept in an ideal environment, poinsettias will hold their brightly colored bracts for months. To ensure long-lasting beauty, select a poinsettia that has the following characteristics:
- Thoroughly colored bracts with few open yellow flowers in the center
- An abundance of dark, rich green foliage all the way down the stem
- A balanced shape, full and attractive from all sides
- Strong stems, good bract and leaf retention
- No signs of wilting, breaking or drooping
Once at home, place the poinsettia in a bright location so that it receives at least 6 hours of indirect sunlight each day. Avoid placing poinsettias in areas with excessive heat. The ideal temperature range is between 50 – 70 °F. Keep the soil moderately moist. Never let the soil completely dry out and never leave the plant in standing water. Poinsettias do not need to be fertilized when blooming. For more information, refer to HGIC 1561, Poinsettia.