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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Extension Today: Poinsettia Care

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Did you know that poinettias really are small shrubs or trees?
And just what's a "bract" anyway? 

Keep your poinsettias bright and colorful over the holidays! Live plants can make great decorations for the holidays – and poinsettias are one of the most well-known winter holiday plants! Add festive colors to your house, office, or any other space where you want to add some natural holiday cheer!

Learn how to water your poinsettia properly, maintain it away from direct heat and light, and keep it healthy for the duration of your holiday season.

Poinsettias are one of the most popular winter holiday season plants. Poinsettias are native to Mexico and Central America. The poinsettia was first introduced in 1828 to the United States, by Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico. The “bracts” of poinsettia plants really are leaves, not flowers. The topmost bracts change color with the short days and long nights during the winter. The lower bracts are green when they are healthy. The true flowers of poinsettia plants are little buds in the center of the bracts that open to a small yellow flower. A good basic overview about these plants really can be found on Wikipedia.

Poinsettias have gotten a bad rap about their potential to poison your household pets. They really are not poisonous to your dog or cat; although you don’t want to just let them chew on poinsettia bracts, because they can cause some mild sickness reactions. The national Pet Poison Hotline can help you determine what to do next if you realize your pet has made a snack of your poinsettia decorations.

PAX Poinsettia Sale: Students in the Ohio State chapter of Pi Alpha Xi (PAX), the national honor society for floriculture and horticulture, sell poinesttias, holiday containers, door swags, and centerpieces each year to help you decorate your home. Proceeds from the sale support activities of this honor society and Chadwick Arboretum. The 2021 sale will be held on Dec 1 and 2, from 8am to 6pm both days. Check out the sale information online, then make plans to stop by Howlett Greenhouse on main campus and pick out your own bursts of color. You can also pre-order poinsettias; more information is avialable in the PAX sale online info.

Learn more about how to keep your poinsettias happy during the holidays. Here's an overview with some quick tips and tricks via one of our county Extension offices.

And can you keep your poinsettias perky and bright after the holidays are over?! Absolutely! Check out what our experts in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) have to share about doing just that in this article: Yes, your poinsettia can survive after the holidays.

Check out Buckeye Yard & Garden onLine (BYGL) for current information about how to keep your poinsettia looking its best.

Tim was joined by Wendy Klooster, an assistant professor in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Sciences in CFAES, for a virtual greenhouse visit to learn more about poinsettia care.

Get out of the house and visit nature any time! Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens is an extensive, urban, green reserve of 60+ acres located within the 1,600 acres of The Ohio State University main campus in Columbus, Ohio. Take a virtual tour of Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens by exploring our website or YouTube virtual tour playlist. Or, better yet, visit the gardens in person. We are open year-round, and there is no admission fee.