Darrell Blackwelder column: Poinsettias are the quintessential holiday plant

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 18, 2021

Poinsettias are undoubtably a holiday favorite and a standard decoration for the Christmas season. Many continue to ask questions about this popular holiday plant. Below are a few facts about poinsettias.

• Poinsettias were introduced in 1825 as a gift from the ambassador to Mexico. Poinsettias are a major floral crop grown by Rowan County greenhouse producers.

• Red is the favorite poinsettia color, however, there are a virtual rainbow of colors ranging from deep purples to creamy whites showcasing 92 different varieties of all color, shapes and blends.

• Poinsettias are photoperiodic plants responding to both color and growth with daylengths or the amount of total light it receives. The chlorophyll (green color) gradually disappears revealing other color pigments from waning daylight hours in early September.

• Locate your poinsettia in indirect sunlight for at least six hours per day. If direct sun can’t be avoided, diffuse the light with a shade or sheer curtain.

 • Poinsettias need to be placed in cool locations maintaining room temperatures between 68-70 degrees.

• Poinsettia bracts and foliage are not toxic. However, these plants are ornamentals, intended only for ornamental purposes. The myth of these as poisonous plants has persisted since the early 1900s.

• Poinsettias are a great buy for the amount of time and care that goes into their production. Produced as a disposable crop, they should be tossed after they decline following the holiday season.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.