We’ve all seen the poinsettias arrive at grocery stores, garden centers, Costco and Sam’s Club looking absolutely beautiful and then, a few days later, looking like they needed to be thrown out. This isn’t because they’ve been neglected, it’s because they’ve been over-watered and are not getting enough light. Poinsettias are part of the Euphorbia family and their leaves should become soft and droop a little before you water them. The green leaves fall off from too much water and then you’re left with an ugly bare stem that has a few red bracts on the top. If your poinsettias already look like this, go outside and cut a few small branches off of a fir or pine tree and fill in the bottom of the plant.
Follow these simple care instructions, and you’ll have lovely poinsettias into January.
Poinsettias need very bright indirect light but no direct sun. The light from a north-facing window is not adequate. If you place your plant close to a window, be sure none of the leaves touch the glass since the cold damages poinsettias.
Allow at least the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering to prevent root rot, green leaves falling off, and bare stems. Severe under-watering, when the plant badly droops, causes both green and colored leaves to fall off. Water drops on the leaves makes unsightly white marks.
Poinsettias last longer and look better when the temperature is between 65-70 degrees during the day and about 60 degrees at night. Temperatures that are too hot or too cold damage the leaves and can also cause leaf drop. Keep Poinsettias away from drafty doors and windows, fireplaces, heaters, and the tops of appliances that give off heat.
Poinsettias, despite all rumors, are not poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 The Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants [Paperback]is an excellent reference to keep around if you have young children and pets., though themilky sap of the plant may cause minor skin irritations, especially for people who are allergic to latex.