Proper care keeps your poinsettias fresh and healthy

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With the right watering and temperature, you’ll be able to enjoy your poinsettias well past the holiday season.

Poinsettias like bright, indirect sunlight and prefer humid conditions. Let the soil dry out between waterings.

Poinsettias are sensitive to extreme temperatures, so don’t place your plant next to a heater or near a drafty window or doorway. A daytime temp of around 65 degrees and nights around 60 degrees will provide a perfect condition for your poinsettia.

If you want to use cut poinsettias for arrangements, here’s the secret to success: sear the cut stems with a candle flame. This will help keep your flowers fresh.

Poinsettias excrete a milky sap when the leaves or stems are broken. You need to stop the flow of that sap to prevent drooping flowers. The sap isn’t poisonous, but it can irritate your skin, so you might want to wear gloves while searing your cuts and making your arrangement.

How to sear the stems

Sear stems with a pillar candle to keep your hands free. Once you cut a stem, sear it quickly to avoid letting too much sap drip out. The sap will boil or bubble under the candle flame. If you remove leaves, you’ll also need to sear the points where the leaves were attached.

If blossoms remain upright an hour or so after you’ve seared them, you’ve done it correctly. If blossoms start to droop, the easiest remedy is to cut a fresh flower and try again.

Place seared stems in tepid water treated with a floral preservative to condition and extend the life of the blooms. The stems are hollow and will absorb water after they’re seared.

Poinsettias get thirsty once they’re cut, so check their water level often. Add more floral preservative each time you change the water.

Are poinsettias poisonous to children, pets?

Poinsettias are not poisonous after all, causing nothing more than perhaps a mild stomach upset if a part of the plant is eaten. Eating a large amount of poinsettias may luckily be very unlikely due to the plant’s taste: very bitter and not very edible at all. So usually, a leaf or two will give the message to a curious toddler or rambunctious pet.

According to Poinsindex, “a 50-pound child would have to ingest 500-600 leaves to exceed experimental doses that found no toxicity.” The white sticky sap however, may cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals.

“Doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Poison Center conducted a review of 22,793 reported cases of poinsettia exposures, the majority (93%) of which occurred in children, and found that 92% of those exposed did not develop any symptoms at all,” according to “Ninety-six per cent of those exposed were not even treated in a health care facility. Furthermore, no deaths resulting from poinsettia ingestion have ever been documented.”

Pet owners can rely on findings from the ASPCA. According to ASPCA, “In reality, Poinsettia ingestion’s typically produce only mild to moderate gastrointestinal tract irritation. Keeping this plant out of the reach of your pet to avoid stomach upset is still a good idea, but you need not banish the poinsettia from your home for fear of a fatal exposure.”

The Pet Poison Hotline adds, “There is no antidote for poinsettia poisoning. That said, due to the low level of toxicity seen with poinsettia ingestion, medical treatment is rarely necessary unless clinical signs are severe.”

Santa’s coming!

Don’t forget to come by this weekend and have your picture taken with Santa! He’ll be here from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 29, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 30. Join us, and bring your kids or pets, too!

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