Poinsettias are a popular Christmas flower, known for their bright red bracts. But what exactly is a poinsettia bloom? And how do they get their colors? In this blog post, we will explore the science behind poinsettia blooms, and learn a few fun facts about these festive plants.
The colorful part of the plant that we think of as the flower is actually a modified leaf called a bract. The true flowers of the poinsettia are small and yellow, and they are found in the center of the bracts.The bracts of the poinsettia get their color from a chemical called anthocyanin. Anthocyanins are pigments that give plants their red, blue, and purple colors. The amount of anthocyanins in the bracts of a poinsettia is affected by the amount of light that the plant receives.
How Poinsettias get their color
In the fall, poinsettias start to produce more anthocyanins in response to shorter days and cooler nights. This is why poinsettias typically bloom in the winter, around Christmas time.
The more light that a poinsettia receives, the less anthocyanins it will produce. This is why poinsettias that are grown in dark rooms will have lighter-colored bracts.
Fun facts about poinsettias
- The poinsettia is native to Mexico. The Aztecs used the plant in their fall celebrations.
- The poinsettia was named after Joel Poinsett, the first US minister to Mexico. Poinsett introduced the plant to the US in 1825.
- The poinsettia is the official flower of the state of Georgia.
- Poinsettias can live for many years if they are properly cared for.
- Poinsettias are poisonous to pets.
Learn how to grow Poinsettia here!
How to get your poinsettia to Change
- Start the process in early October. This is when the days start to get shorter and the nights start to get longer.
- Place your poinsettia in a dark room for 14 hours each day. You can use a closet, a cardboard box, or even a dark corner of your room.
- During the day, give your poinsettia bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid putting it in direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves.
- Water your poinsettia regularly, but don’t overwater it. The soil should be moist, but not soggy.
- Fertilize your poinsettia every two weeks with a balanced fertilizer.
- Check your poinsettia regularly for signs of pests or diseases. If you see any problems, treat them immediately.
When you follow these tips your poinsettia should start to turn red within a few weeks. The exact amount of time it takes will vary depending on the plant, but most poinsettias will start to show color after about six weeks.
More Poinsettia Tips
- Keep the temperature in the room where your poinsettia is located between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Avoid placing your poinsettia near heat vents or radiators.
- If you live in a cold climate, you may need to bring your poinsettia indoors before the first frost.
- If you’re not sure if your poinsettia is getting enough light, you can use a light meter to measure the light levels in the room. The light levels should be between 10,000 and 15,000 lux.
- If your poinsettia is not turning red after six weeks, you may need to increase the amount of darkness it is getting. You can do this by placing it in a closet for 16 hours each day.
If you do this right your Poinsettia will turn red for you! Poinsettia blooms are a staple living decor item during the holidays.