National Poinsettia Day

Today, December 12th, is National Poinsettia Day in the United States.  Today we celebrate this durable and highly attractive plant for the indoor landscape.  Some quick tidbits about poinsettias:


*Contrary to popular belief, they are not poisonous.  Oh sure, if you ate a whole plant, it’s likely that it would result in a stomachache, but overall, not a serious concern.


*Yes, it’s an indoor plant in most of the U.S., but considering it’s native to Mexico, in southern climes such as Texas and southern California, they grow year round outdoors in the landscape.


*The most popular colors are red, pink and cream.  Lots and lots of new cultivars are available each year due to vigorous breeding efforts in Europe and the U.S.


*According to the Greenhouse Product News, poinsettias account for nearly one-quarter of flowering potted plant sales each year. That is well over 30 million poinsettias sold every holiday season!


*Poinsettias prefer moist to slightly dry soils and full sunshine.  If you can provide these indoor conditions, they will perform well for at least a month inside your home.


*Poinsettias are susceptible to pests such as whiteflies and mealybugs.  Inspect for these and control as necessary.


*After blooming, allow the leaves and colored bracts to drop naturally, then move it to a seldom-used location in the home.  Water the plant occasionally, just enough to keep it alive until it can be moved out of doors in late April.  At that point, cut off the tops of each stem to encourage new growth, which will arise from any remaining viable buds.  Enjoy it as an outdoor houseplant over the summer!

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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