‘Tis the season for poinsettias! These favorite holiday flowers grace our homes and offices throughout December and add a festive floral touch to our holiday décor. Keep your poinsettias looking their best with these tips from Ward Upham, Master Gardener coordinator with K-State Research and Extension:

  • Place your poinsettia in a sunny window or the brightest area of the room, but don’t let it touch cold window panes. The day temperature should be 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and 60 to 65 degrees at night. Temperatures above 75 will shorten bloom life, and below 60 may cause root rot.
  • Move plants away from drafty windows at night or draw drapes between them to avoid damage from the cold.
  • Poinsettias are somewhat finicky in regard to soil moisture. Avoid overwatering because poinsettias do not like “wet feet.” On the other hand, if the plant is allowed to wilt, it will drop some leaves.
  • Maintain proper moisture by checking the potting soil daily. Stick your finger about one-half inch deep into the soil. If it is dry to this depth, the plant needs water. When it becomes dry to the touch, water the plant with lukewarm water until some water runs out of the drainage hole, then discard the drainage water.

Are poinsettias poisonous?

For years, poinsettias have had the bad reputation of being poisonous. They certainly are not meant to be eaten by humans or pets and ingesting poinsettias would probably cause some stomach upset, as would eating almost any houseplant. However, poinsettias have undergone extensive testing and there is no evidence that they are toxic or unsafe to have in the house. They are also safe to put into the compost.

A more likely problem to watch out for is contact dermatitis. Euphorbias, the plant family that includes poinsettias, exude a milky sap when broken. Think of milkweed, another common Euphorbia. Many people are sensitive to this sap, which can cause an itchy rash. Be especially careful not to rub your eyes after touching the plants. To be safe, wash your hands after handling a poinsettia plant and try to avoid pinching or pruning them with your hands. (Source: thespruce.com)