Poinsettia Primer

Keep the holiday flower power strong for next year


My poinsettia reblooming in second year

By Ray Novitske, Fairfax Master Gardener
Just about everyone loves poinsettias at holiday time. But too often, this popular plant ends its days in the garbage bin sometime in midwinter. It is a sad fate for a plant that not only has a rich and interesting history, but for one that, with a little patience on the gardener’s part, is easily coaxed into rebloom.

The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is the best-selling potted plant in America. It is a euphorbia and a member of the spurge family. Like other members of this family, it has a milky sap. This has led to the belief that the plant is poisonous, although university research shows this to be untrue. The American Medical Association’s handbooks, however, note that ingesting parts of the poinsettia plant may occasionally cause vomiting.