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What You Need to Know About Poinsettias

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What You Need to Know About Poinsettias

'Tis the season, and for many seniors at Bethesda Gardens in Frisco, that might mean adding a seasonal plant to your assisted living apartment. And while there are numerous winter botanicals to chose from — including small, potted Christmas trees — perhaps the most infamous indoor holiday plant is the poinsettia.

Here are some fun facts and useful tidbits for seniors who love this red and green plant and want to keep one in their residence for the season.

Are Poinsettias Safe?

Poinsettias are part of a family of plants known for oozing a type of milky sap, and that sap can cause a reaction for some people. Mostly, this is a risk for anyone who experiences latex allergies. Touching the plant's leaves can cause a similar reaction as touching latex. If you're one of those people, you may want to opt for an artificial poinsettia or a different type of decorative plant this season.

Poinsettias are also no good for cats. If you have a feline companion in your assisted living apartment, you'll probably want to skip this plant. This is especially true if your cat likes to munch on plant life, as so many do.

Poinsettias Aren't Flowers

The red parts of a poinsettia that look like a flower are actually a form of leaf called a bract. Not all poinsettia bracts are red, either. You can get these plants in over 100 varieties, and some of those feature bracts that are speckled, marbled, pink, white or burgundy.

The Plant Isn't Native to the United States

It was actually brought to the country by botanist Joel Roberts Poinsett. He originally transplanted the poinsettia to our nation in the 1800s. The plant is originally from Mexico, where it's considered a perennial shrub. In it's home nation, the poinsettia can grow up to 15 feet tall!

Caring For Poinsettias

Poinsettias like direct sunlight and a tropical temperature. They flourish in temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees. You'll also want to ensure the plant isn't in a location where it receives cool gusts or touches a cold window, as both can damage the plant and cause it to lose its leaves early.

Poinsettias need regular watering, but they should not sit in drenched soil. Simply add water when the surface of the soil in the pot feels dry and continue adding water until a little bit runs out of the bottom.

This care regime works for poinsettias through around March. Poinsettias can be tended throughout the year and coaxed into blooming again the next season. If you want to give your green thumb a challenge, check out The Spruce's post on caring for poinsettias through to the next Christmas season.

 And if you're not up for that challenge, don't sweat it. Poinsettias can be composted after the season and they're easily replaceable next year.