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The poinsettia is a popular plant to display during the Christmas season. Poinsettia is native to Mexico and Central America. This plant is named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States ambassador to Mexico. Poinsett brought cuttings of the plant back to the United States in 1828, it quickly became a popular holiday decoration in many households.
The poinsettia’s scientific name is Euphorbia pulcherrima. It is a member of the spurge family, which also includes poinsettias and other plants such as the rubber tree. The poinsettia is a shrub or small tree that can grow up to 10 feet tall. The leaves are green and oval-shaped, and the flowers are small and yellow. The showy, colorful part of the poinsettia is not a flower, but a modified leaf called a bract. The bracts are red, pink, white, or yellow, and they surround the small yellow flowers. The bracts change color in response to the length of day and night very much like a Christmas Cactus needing darkness to bloom.
In the fall and winter, when the days are shorter, the bracts turn red. Poinsettias are not poisonous, but the milky white sap that they produce can irritate the skin and eyes. If you are allergic to latex, you should avoid touching poinsettias and if you have pets that like to chew plants keep this plant out of reach.
How to Grow Poinsettia
- Water: Water your poinsettia when the soil surface feels dry to a light touch, or the pot feels lightweight when lifted. Never allow the plant to get so dry that it wilts.
- Light: Poinsettias need bright, indirect light. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves.
- Temperature: Poinsettias prefer warm temperatures, between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature drops below 60 degrees, the plant may drop its leaves.
- Humidity: Poinsettias appreciate high humidity levels. If you live in a dry climate, you can place your poinsettia near a humidifier or place it on a tray of pebbles filled with water.
- Fertilizer: Feed your poinsettia a diluted balanced fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during the growing season. Stop fertilizing while our poinsettia is in bloom.
- Pests and diseases: Poinsettias are susceptible to a few pests and diseases, such as mealybugs, scale, and root rot. If you notice any problems, isolate the plant and treat it with an appropriate pesticide or fungicide.
With proper care, your poinsettia should thrive for many months. If you live in a warm climate you may even be able to plant your Poinsettia in your garden.
Here are some additional tips to help you with poinsettia care:
- Repot your poinsettia in the spring: Poinsettias tend to outgrow their pots quickly. Repot your plant in the spring into a pot that is one size larger.
- Prune your poinsettia: In the spring, you can prune your poinsettia to encourage new growth. Remove any dead, damaged, or diseased leaves.
- Overwinter your poinsettia: If you live in a cold climate, you may want to overwinter your poinsettia indoors. Place the plant in a cool, dark location and water it sparingly. In the spring, you can bring the plant back out into the light and resume regular care.
Following these tips will help you keep your poinsettia healthy and beautiful for many months to come.
How to get your Poinsettia Plant to turn red
Poinsettias produce red bracts in response to the length of day and night. In order to get poinsettia leaves to turn red, you need to give the plant 14 hours of darkness each day for about 8 weeks before you want it to bloom.
Here are tips on how to get poinsettia leaves to turn red:
- Start the process 8 weeks before you want the poinsettia to bloom.
- Place the poinsettia in a room that receives bright, indirect sunlight during the day.
- At night, move the poinsettia to a dark closet or cover it with a cardboard box.
- Continue this process for 8 weeks.
- After 8 weeks, the poinsettia’s bracts should start to turn red.
Here are some additional tips for getting poinsettia leaves to turn red:
- The poinsettia should be kept at a temperature of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
- The poinsettia should be watered regularly, but not too much. The soil should be kept moist, but not soggy.
- The poinsettia should be fertilized every 2-3 weeks with a balanced fertilizer.
If you follow these tips, your poinsettia’s bracts should turn red in time for the holidays.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind:
- If you live in a warm climate, you may need to move the poinsettia to a cooler location at night.
- If you cannot give the poinsettia 14 hours of darkness each day, you can still get it to bloom, but the bracts may not be as red.
- If you notice any problems with your poinsettia, such as yellow leaves or dropping leaves, adjust your care accordingly.
With proper care, your poinsettia should bloom beautifully for the holiday season.