Poinsettias are a well-known and traditional holiday plant that can add beauty to your home during the holidays as well as year-round. They’ve gotten a bad reputation for being poisonous, but they are not as toxic as was once thought. You can enjoy these plants year-round by keeping a few tips in mind.

History

Origin

The poinsettia plant is native to Mexico. For the holiday season, you will
see them with red, white or a hybrid color, but they can actually be found in orange or pale green as well. While the colored part is thought to be a flower, that is not the case. They are the leaves.

Legend

The planet first began being associated with Christmas in the 16th century

in Mexico. The legend is that there was a poor girl who was unable to buy a gift for Jesus’ birthday. Instead, she
gathered weeds from the side of the road and placed them in front of the church altar. Red blossoms then sprouted from these weeds and became poinsettias.

Poinsettias were introduced into Christmas decorations in the 17th century by Franciscan friars. The star-shaped leaf pattern is thought to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, while the red represents the blood sacrifice.

Toxicity:

(Info from WebMD)

How children are affected

Poinsettias are not as toxic as once thought. No deaths have been attributed to the ingestion of poinsettia leaves. A child would need to eat 500 leaves to get really sick. Children could get nauseated or throw up if they eat around five leaves, but they are not going to die. Most likely, a child won’t take more than a couple bites as poinsettia leaves don’t taste good.

How pets are affected

It is also unlikely for a pet to die from eating poinsettia leaves. Similar to how it affects children, pets may also throw up. Any poisoning would be attributed more to the pesticides that may be on the plant when ingested.

Proper Care

  • Place it near a sunny window and keep your house between 65 and 75 degrees F during the day.
  • Water the plant any time the soil feels dry.
  • After Christmas, keep watering it until mid-spring before letting it dry out. At the beginning of summer, cut back the stems to a couple of inches and replant it in new soil. Water it and keep it warm. One month later, put it outside in a shady location and bring it back in midsummer. Then, give it a sunny place inside once again and water it regularly. Once it hits mid-autumn, put the plant in complete darkness from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. It will then re-flower for you and get ready for the next holiday season.

By following the tips above, you can properly care for your poinsettia and enjoy it for more than one holiday season!

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