How to Use Poinsettias as Cut Flowers

Poinsettias, with all their new colors and shapes make wonderful cut flowers if you just follow a few simple rules. 1. Cut some poinsettia stems with colorful bracts. The bracts are what most people refer to as the flowers of the plant. Think before you cut, so you won’t have to cut the stems a second time, you’ll see why in a second. 2. As soon as you cut the stems, singe the cut ends with a candle or long match to stop the sap from dripping out.  Poinsettia stems and leaves excrete this milky sap when cut or damaged in any way. If you don’t stop the sap from dripping out, the poinsettia cutting quickly droops and fades. The sap isn’t 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.  More poisonous houseplant information and pictures of common plants that are dangerous to children and pets can be found in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants, but is very irritating if it gets on your skin, so be sure to wear gloves. If you have to re-cut the stems at a later time because they’re too tall for the arrangement, you’ll have to singe the cut ends again. 3. The poinsettia flowers are now ready to be placed in a vase of water. Be creative, add some evergreen branches and some berries. Don’t just stick with red or white flowers, try some of the new colors like marble, jingle bells, salmon, and pink. The new Winter Rose poinsettia has  a very different flower that resembles a large, open rose. 4. Cut poinsettias that have had their cut ends singed properly can often last up to two weeks in a cut flower arrangement.