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What popular flower is a tropical but known for its winter spirit? Poinsettias!

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Poinsettias are known for the holiday season and have been a tradition for decades. It is a beautiful plant that is originally from South-of-the-Border of the United States. They are native to Mexico, and in nature are perennial flowering shrubs that can grow up to 10 feet tall. Below are a few other Poinsettia Facts:

• The showy part of the poinsettia that most people think are flowers are actually modified leaves called “bracts”. • Contrary to a popular belief, poinsettias are not poisonous. • Poinsettias represent more than 80% of the potted plant sales during the holidays. • December 12th is National Poinsettia Day n the Unites States. • 80% of all poinsettias are purchased by women.

History:

The Aztecs cultivated poinsettias in Mexico long before they ever made it to the rest of the world. The Aztec king Montezuma actually had poinsettias brought into what is now Mexico City by caravans because they cannot be grown in the high altitude. Additionally, the sap of poinsettias was used by the Aztecs to control fevers and the leaves (bracts) were used to make a reddish dye.

What popular flower is a tropical but known for its winter spirit? Poinsettias!

Poinsettias made it to the United States in the late 1820’s by a United States Ambassador to Mexico named Joel Roberts Poinsett (thus the plants name, Poinsettia). During a trip to Mexico Ambassador Poinsett wandered the countryside looking for new plant species when he found a beautiful shrub with large red flower-leaves. He sent cuttings of this back to his greenhouse in Greenville, South Carolina and the rest is holiday history.

Poinsettia Selection:

If you have a choice in your poinsettia selection, start by finding a plant with green foliage all the way to the soil line. Older plants will have usually experienced excessive leaf drop. Note: Foliage dropping off can also be a sign of fluctuating temperatures, soil problems, over watering, pest, and other. Additional tips include:

• Choose plants with fully colored “bracts” leaves. • Stay away from plants with fallen or yellow leaves. • Stay away from plants with a lot of green around the “bract” leaf edges. • If the plant is drooping or wilted, and the soil is wet this could be a sign of root rot. • Choose a plant that is full and balanced looking. • Choose a plant that is approximately 2-1/2 times taller than the diameter of the container.

Poinsettia Care / Making it last during the holiday season:

Poinsettias do best on indirect and natural daylight for at least 6 hours per day. Avoiding direct sunlight is important for best results because direct sun fades the “bracts” leaves. Ideal temperatures are 60-70 degrees F during the day and 55-60 degrees F at night. Additional care tips include:

• Keep your poinsettia away from cold or arm drafts including radiators, air registers, and open doors or windows. • Don’t let any part of the plant to touch cold window panes. • High temperatures will shorten the life of the colorful “bracts” leaves. • Don’t fertilize poinsettias when they are in bloom. • Avoid dramatic temperature fluctuations. • Check the soil daily to make sure it is moist but not wet. Water must be able to drain so you’ll need to make sure there are holes in the container bottom.

Poinsettia Pest & Disease Control:

Whether inside or outside, poinsettias can be affected by pest & disease. You can ash insects off with mild soap and water by using a sponge and or gentle spray. Pest such as mealy bugs & whiteflies may require a more dramatic measure with pesticide or by applying alcohol with a cotton swab.

If your poinsettias lower leaves start to turn yellow and falling off a root condition known as root rot may exist. This can be caused by cold and moist soil temperatures that either happened before or after you bought the plant. One solution is to apply an all purpose fungicide picked up at your local garden center.