While flowers are not usually plentiful during the winter months, poinsettias are an exception to the rule. Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are originally from Mexico and became a popular Christmas plant in the early 20th century. Today, there are hundreds of compact, long lasting varieties. Red continues to be the most popular color, however, white, pink, and specked or marbled varieties are also sold. The flowers of the poinsettia are the small, cup-like structures at the center of the showy “bracts” which are modified leaves.
Wholesale growers begin shipping poinsettias in mid-November to prepare for the holiday season. Poinsettia are a long-term crop, started from rooted cuttings in early to mid-July. The plants are pinched to promote branching and growers measure the height of the plants on a weekly basis to make sure the plants will be at the desired height for their customers.
To care for your poinsettias, place plants in a sleeve to protect them from temperatures below 50° F when bringing your plant home. Be careful not to overwater your plants, they are very susceptible to root rots. Place poinsettias in a bright, sunny location away from hot or cold drafts. Poinsettias are not poisonous, but their milky sap can irritate the skin.
You can learn more by visiting: December Gardening Tips from the UConn Home and Garden Center