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. 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.
False. 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.