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House Plant Index

Poinsettia pulcherrima (syn. Euphorbia pulchenima)

Flowers December, January
Potting or re-potting time May
Position in garden during summer Sun
Potting Mixture 3

Painted leaf, or poinsettia, was first introduced from Mexico in 1828, and has ever since been a favorite Christmas plant for it is in December that the broad scarlet bracts are at their best on.forced plants. Actual flowers are small yellow bowls clustered in the center of the colorful, modified leave or bracts which many people think of as the flowers.

Poinsettia istouchy; it requires skill to keep a plant in good condition for more than the few weeks, which are its usual, span of life in many houses. The roots rebel at extremes of dryness or moisture. Water only when the soil is obviously dry. Give lots of sun and grow at a temperature of at least 70 degrees. Too much water or a slight chill will cause the leaves and bracts to fall.

In March or April, poinsettia will show unmistakable signs of getting sleepy. Leaves and bracts will fade and gradually drop from the stems. Put the plant to bed--on its side-in a cool cellar and leave it to its own devices until May. Then prune the plant until only 4 inches of stem growth protrudes above the pot. Re-pot in the next larger size container and plunge in the garden when weather is dependably warm. Return to the house in early September.

Horticultural varieties of P. pulcher7ima offer bracts in pink and white, as well as rose and scarlet. A variety listed as plenissima has twice the normal number of bracts.