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How much do you know about poinsettias?

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Courtesy of Steve Asbell

(Read caption) Colorful poinsettias are the most popular indoor holiday plant. Many misconceptions surround them, including the false claim that they're poisonous.

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The poinsettia certainly has its share of myths and misconceptions considering it’s the most popular houseplant of the holidays, so I think it’s time to clear the air. Here’s a little quiz that will test your knowledge and show you how to give your poinsettia the proper care.

Poinsettias are poisonous
False. Despite the similarities of the words "poisonous" and "poinsettias," poinsettias are not poisonous, scientific tests have shown. It is true that the milky latex sap can be irritating to some, particularly individuals with sensitive skin, but it's worth noting -- although you shouldn't try this at home -- that poinsettia sap was considered safe enough by early settlers to find use as a dye and medicine!

Poinsettia flowers are yellow
True. The poinsettia's colorful "blooms" of red, white, and pink are not flowers, but modified leaves called bracts. If you look in the center of the bracts, you'll see the real flowers, which are small, yellow, and rather unusual looking. The colorful red bracts develop in late fall to attract pollinators to the otherwise forgettable flowers.

Poinsettias are difficult to keep alive
False. Poinsettias are actually pretty easy to grow if you follow a few simple instructions. Choose a full and bushy plant with stems that are firmly rooted in the soil. Look for the small, unopened yellow flowers at the top of the plant, as they will bloom the longest. Be sure to keep the poinsettia protected from the cold on the way home. Place the poinsettia where it will get plenty of bright sunlight, and poke holes in the foil so that the roots don’t drown. Water thoroughly whenever the soil starts to feel dry. If desired, feed lightly every two weeks to keep the blooms at their brightest.


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