With its cheerful, brightly colored display, the poinsettia from Mexico has become an essential element of decoration at Christmas time. The long-lasting, scarlet, pink, or cream “flowers’” are in fact, large bracts surrounding tiny short-lived, yellow true flowers. It is normal to discard the plant once he bracts fade, as bringing it back into color in subsequent years is not easy.
Size: Height 12—18 in. (50—45 cm).
Light: Indirect sunlight.
Temperature: Normal room.
Moisture: Water thoroughly, but allow to dry slightly before watering again.
Feeding: Not necessary unless the plant is kept after the bracts fade.
Propagation: Take tip cuttings, 5 in. (7 cm) long, once growth starts in spring. The plant exudes an irritant milky latex from cut surfaces, so the cuttings should be sealed by placing them in water.
Special needs: When purchasing a poinsettia, look for small, unopened flower buds in the center of the bracts, and ensure that it has been kept indoors (unless your climate is very hot, never buy one that has been placed outside for any length of time). The plant will only form flowers or colored bracts if it is lit for less than 12 hours per day from the autumnal equinox on. Ensure that the plant is not in a well-lit room from then until flowering begins.