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Poinsettias have an ancient history. They are native to Central America, especially southern Mexico where they thrive on moist, wooded ravines and rocky hillsides. The ancient Aztecs called the plants cuetlaxochitl and used them medicinally and decoratively. Poinsettias were so valued that the Aztec Emperor, Montezuma, had caravans bring them into what is now Mexico City because they did not grow in the high altitude. Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first American ambassador to Mexico, is credited with bringing poinsettias to the U.S. in 1825. Poinsettias are named for him.
There are more than one hundred varieties of poinsettias and their colors range from traditional red, to white, pink, burgundy, marbled, and speckled. They are part of the Euphorbiaceae or Spurge family. Botanically, the plant is known as Euphorbia pulcherrima. The poinsettia is one of America's most commercially profitable potted plants.
Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not deadly to humans or animals. Research at Ohio State University showed no toxicity at levels that would exceed the amounts likely to be ingested in the home environment. As with many household items, care should be used when handling poinsettias.
The Friends of Greenhouse hosts an annual poinsettia sale in support of Rockefeller Park Greenhouse. To all our members and friends, thank you for your purchases and donations. Below are tips for caring for your plants during the holiday season and throughout the year.
1) After purchasing your beautiful plant, keep it warm until you get it indoors. If left in a cold vehicle, it may suffer. Once indoors, unpack your poinsettia as soon as possible.
2) When deciding where to display your plant, look for areas in your home with bright, indirect sunlight. Diffused sunlight will help your poinsettia retain its color longer. Excess heat from appliances, fireplaces, and radiators can harm it.
3) Poinsettias prefer steady temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees ℉. Avoid placing them near doorways or in areas where drafts may cause temperatures to fluctuate. Cooler night temperatures are fine but should not go below 55 degrees ℉.
4) Water the soil when the surface feels dry, about every 2-3 days. If the area in which you are keeping your poinsettia tends to be dry, you may find yourself watering it daily.
5) When watering, remove the pot from any decorative covering. Make sure the water runs through the soil to the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot, and pour off any excess water. Overwatering will cause the leaves to turn yellow and fall off and can lead to root rot. If convenient, let the pot sit in a dry sink until drainage is complete.
Yes, when cared for properly, your poinsettia can bloom again for several seasons. For tips on how care for your plant all year, download the Poinsettia Care Guide by clicking the button below.