Choose poinsettias with healthy green foliage and no signs of problems.

Poinsettias, Euphorbia pulcherrima, traditionally come in Christmas red and green, but there are also pinks, whites and splashy mixes. I have even seen them glittered up lately.


The colored “petals” of poinsettia are actually modified leaves called bracts. The actual flower is in a cup or “cyathium” in the center of the showy bracts.


Despite what you may have heard, poinsettias are not poisonous. Research conducted at Ohio State University and other institutions shows they are safe in the home. The milky sap can cause skin irritation on sensitive individuals, but that is the extent of the danger.


Here are tips on choosing and caring for your poinsettia:



Pick poinsettias with healthy green foliage and no signs of problems.
If the weather is cooler than 50 degrees F from store to car, ask for a protective wrap.
 
At home, keep them cheerful by placing them in a sunny location protected from cold drafts. A south or west window is best, but make they don’t touch the cold glass.
Check the potting media every day and water when the surface is dry, just enough to thoroughly wet the media. If you use a saucer, discard any excess water that collects there since poinsettias are sensitive to overly wet conditions.
To prolong the bloom, keep day temperature between 65 and 70 degrees F and night temperature a bit cooler, but not less than 60 degrees F.

Marilyn Odneal can be reached at MarilynOdneal@missouristate.edu.