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Poinsettia Quiz: True or False?

While everyone knows that poinsettias are the Christmas flower, not everyone knows all the facts about them.  There’s lots of misinformation out there concerning these beautiful plants; do you know the truth? It’s time to clear the air regarding the most popular holiday houseplant.

Poinsettias are poisonous
False. Despite popular belief, poinsettias are nontoxic to humans and animals alike.  Granted, much like other plants, the sap can irritate sensitive skin, but the plant will not kill animals or people if they eat a leaf or two. Poinsettias are the most widely tested consumer plant, and the studies have all shown that they are nontoxic.  A study shown at Ohio State University have proven a 50-pound child would have to eat more than 1.25 pounds of poinsettia bracts, about 500 to 600 leaves, to exceed the experimental doses that found no toxicity.  However, this doesn’t mean you should serve yourself a salad of poinsettia leaves. Much like any other non-food items, ingesting poinsettias can cause stomach discomfort, but nothing more than that.

Poinsettias are the original Christmas Flower
False. Cyclamen were originally the go-to Christmas flowers in the Victorian Era. Their Christmas Flower title came from being a cool season blooming houseplant.  Poinsettias are native to Mexico where they bloom during the winter months.  There is a story that explains how they became the Christmas flower that goes like this: Long ago, people in Mexico flocked to church on Christmas Eve because they loved to fill the Christ child’s manger with flowers. A little boy named Jose was too poor to buy any flowers. An angel appeared to Jose and told him to pick some weeds from the side of the road. Following the instructions, Jose brought the weeds to the church. When he put them in the manger, they changed into beautiful scarlet flowers, which the Mexicans call the “Flor de la Noche Buena,” the Flower of Christmas Eve.

Poinsettia flowers are yellow
True. The red, pink and white leaves that we see are just that, modified leaves called bracts.  The flowers are actually at the center of these, small and yellow (See photo) The bracts change colors in the fall to help attract pollinators as the flowers are getting ready to bloom.

Poinsettias are difficult to keep alive
Poinsettias are fairly easy to maintain, they just need proper water and light.  Place your poinsettia in indirect light for at least six hours per day and avoid direct sunlight. Water the poinsettias when the soil feels dry to the touch, and do not over-water or allow to sit in standing water.  Also, when watering, do not water the poinsettia over the top.  This can cause spots on the leaves and can also kill the plant. Poinsettias like room to breathe, so be sure not to crowd your plant and unwrap it immediately. Avoid placing in colder temperatures, below 50 degrees F, or places with a draft, near a front door or fireplace.

Poinsettias will bloom again next year
Poinsettias are usually kept around the holidays and tossed, but in they make great houseplants for the entire winter when taken care of properly. To get them to bloom again the following year does take some dedication.  Poinsettias can last from year to year, but getting them to turn colors again can be tricky if you don’t have the right conditions.  To keep your poinsettia going, fertilize after the blooming season with an all-purpose fertilizer.  Keep it in sun to part sun outdoors during the summer, and then move it in when temperatures begin to fall below 50 at night. From September through November comes the key time to help your poinsettia change color.  You will need to put the poinsettia in a bright room during the day, and in an absolutely dark room as soon as the sun goes down.  This darkness is the key to getting it to change.  Even if it is in a closet, put a towel by the crack of the door so no light gets in.  If all is done right, your poinsettia will last into the next season for you.

Blue poinsettias are fake
True. Poinsettias come in a wide variety of beautiful flowers.  Ranging from red, pink, white, marble, burgundy and orange, there are lots to choose from.  During the last decade, the popularity of blue and purple poinsettias has grown in popularity.  These colors, however, are not natural.  The poinsettias are sprayed with a blue dye before getting covered with glitter and splashed with alcohol or glue for an effect that is interesting, to say the least. Whether you love the dyed poinsettias or hate them, the color will not last for long. A poinsettia that has been dyed blue or any other color will eventually start producing normal leaves and is best thrown out.


Happy Thanksgiving!



Wildflower vs. Weed

 Many people love the look of a prairie-style or native garden, where they let wildflowers grow wild. The question many gardeners face is how to keep this style going? How do you determine what is a wildflower, growing as it would in a prairie, and what is a weed? 

A lot of people define a weed as anything that is growing where you don’t want something to grow. In fact, Webster’s dictionary defines it as “a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth.”

Based on this definition, you can think of any beautiful flower that creeps into your lawn as a weed. The common blue violet often spread into someone’s lawn, but is not usually welcome.  It is, however, planted in beds as a beautiful perennial. So while it is a weed in your lawn, in a garden bed it would be considered a flower.

While weeds can be beautiful flowers, they are seen as a weed due to the location they’re growing, the habit they are growing in, and how easily they can be to get rid of. Wherever weeds grow, they are in competition for nutrients, sunlight and water with your other plants.  They take all of these things away from the area, which is why they are undesirable.

Weeds can also host diseases that then spread to your plants.  Mildew is one that I often spot on weeds in my garden.  Not only do weeds hog the good stuff like sunlight, but they can share the bad stuff like diseases and pests.

Another attribute of weeds, is that they are often vigorous in growth.  They steal the necessities for growing from the plants around them and grow like crazy, invading your garden and choking out other plants.  Because of their growing habits, they can be difficult to eradicate.  It doesn’t help that some weeds, like dandelions, spread their seeds by air, while other vining weeds have runners that are hard to dig up.

Finally, wildflowers may be considered weeds in one region and flowers in another.  Depending on the region you live in, you may consider the same plant a wildflower or a weed.  This again goes back to where it is growing for you, the habit it is growing in, and if it is desirable. A great way to define the difference of a wildflower vs. a weed is whether or not it is a nuisance.

So after all of the deciding factors are looked at, wildflowers can be weeds and vice versa.  When growing a wildflower or native garden, it is important to keep the plants that have the most attractive display of flowers for your garden.  It is recommended to avoid more invasive species, just so you won’t be having to pull them out of your yard as they spread beyond your garden edge. 

A few of these choice wildflowers are perennials like gaillardia, Echinacea, rudbeckia, daises, asters, liatris and coreopsis.  For more native plants to Illinois, check out this great link.


Meet Our Customers: Nancy K.

Each spring we love assisting you all with making your plant selections and designing containers, and now we want to see what you've done! Goers is excited to be starting a new monthly series that gives our customers a chance to show off their gardens. Goers Greenhouse is looking to feature some of our best customers each month on our blog.  We want to share your photos of your beautiful garden and containers and hear about your garden story. 

How long have you been shopping at Goers?

I have been shopping at Vern Goers only for 1 year

What do you like most about the greenhouse?

What I like most about your greenhouse is that all your plants and flowers are healthy and well taken care of

What’s your favorite season for your garden?

My favorite season for my garden is Spring

What’s your favorite plant & why?

My favorite plant is the tomato plant simply because I have had very good luck with growing a good crop each year

What’s one word you would use to describe your garden?

Small but full of color and very garden like with the combination of annual and perennial flowers and plants as well as vegetables 

What do you most enjoy about gardening?

I love watching all my plantings bloom and flourish 


Interested in being next month's featured customer?  Contact us here and let us know!


Winter Container Workshop