It’s the time of year you will be seeing red. Lots of red, plus shades of pink and a touch of white.

Poinsettia is the plant of choice that will be providing the bursts of color for the holidays. The plant is native to Mexico. Its popularity in the United States grows annually, estimated to account for as much as 85% of potted plant sales during the holiday season and millions of dollars worth of income for producers. While what you may see in the stores is limited, there are as many as a hundred varieties to choose from for the true enthusiast.

Poinsettia is the source of urban legend and rumor. Here’s a poinsettia primer to get you through the season.

First, contrary to popular belief they are not poisonous. If consumed in large quantity, they can cause an upset stomach, nausea and diarrhea. The milky sap it produces can also cause a skin irritation.

Fear laid to rest, now here’s what you need to know when you are shopping for the perfect poinsettia. Choose one with dark green foliage down to the soil line. Avoid plants that have yellow or fallen leaves. Look for plants that are two and a half times taller than the diameter of the container. The more blooms you see the more expensive the plant will likely be.

Caring for your poinsettia is pretty easy. It will thrive in a daytime temperature between 60-70 degrees. To get the most vibrant color your poinsettia has to offer provide lots of indirect sunlight. Be sure to keep your plant away from vents and heat registers. Take care when you are bringing them home, Poinsettias are highly susceptible cold and frost. Be sure to cover them to prevent damage from a cold wind.

Water thoroughly and allow them to dry before you water again. If you forget to water right on time, don’t worry: poinsettias are forgiving and will perk right up with the next good soaking.

With proper care, your poinsettia will last well beyond the holidays into the New Year.


Did you know? Poinsettias found growing naturally are a perennial and can reach ten feet tall. The Aztecs made a red-purple dye from the plant. Poinsettias are commercially grown in all 50 states. December 12th is National Poinsettia Day. An NCAA bowl game in San Diego is named the Poinsettia Bowl. The bowl game generates an estimated $11-million dollars for the local economy in tourism.

Posted on 2014-12-01 by Michelle Rauch