Poinsettias make great holiday plants, but many people love to watch them grow all year long. Poinsettias are part of the Euphorbiaceae or Spurge family. Botanically, the plant is known as Euphorbia pulcherrima.
Poinsettias are not poisonous. A study at Ohio State University showed that a 50-pound child would have to eat more than 500 leaves to have any harmful effect. Plus poinsettia leaves have an awful taste. You might want to keep your pets from snacking on poinsettia leaves. Pets tending to eat the plant can end up with a few stomach issues, which won’t be fun to clean up.
In the United States and perhaps elsewhere, there is a common misconception that the poinsettia is highly toxic. This misconception was spread by a 1919 urban legend of a two-year-old child dying after consuming a poinsettia leaf.
In Mexico the poinsettia is a perennial shrub that will grow 10-15 feet tall.
In your home, it will reach a nice height of about 4’, providing the stems don’t snap off first. Since they favor being outdoors during the summer, simply transferring it from inside to outside during the summer, could cause it harm. They should be pruned to keep them well branching. If you don’t want the white sap to drip, place a small piece of tissue on the newly pruned stem. Remove it when it’s dry (you may need to wet the tissue to remove it from the sap).
Poinsettias are fast growers, so it’s imperative to feed it often.
Timing out the Blooms:
NO, you don’t have to put it “in a closet for 6 months” ….
Once the days start becoming shorter, they will naturally have 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of dark. It’s important not to give them any artificial light during the night hours. Even street lamps can throw them off schedule.
Keep poinsettias moist. Don’t let them sit in stagnant water. Remove any fallen leaves from the soil to prevent fungus. Provide a bright window, lots of space around it and keep an eye on it for watering and you will have a wonderful plant companion for many years. *
In Spain the Poinsettia has a different holiday attribution. It is known there as "Flor de Pascua", meaning "Easter flower".
Poinsettias received their name in the United States in honor of Joel Roberts Poinsett, who introduced the plant into the country in 1828. Poinsett was a botanist, physician and the first United States Ambassador to Mexico. He sent cuttings of the plant he had discovered in Southern Mexico to his home in Charleston, South Carolina. The word Poinsettia is traditionally capitalized because it is named after a person.
* Of course, THIS author thinks you should just toss them away after Christmas. And just get a new one next November.