Frequently Asked Questions

Are poinsettias poisonous?


Poinsettias are not poisonous. For nearly eight decades, this rumor has continued to circulate because of one unfounded story in 1919: that an Army officer’s two year old child allegedly died after eating a poinsettia leaf. While never proved by medical or scientific fact and later determined to be hearsay, the story has taken on a life of its own. But, the defenders of the poinsettia have pulled out all the scientific stops to allay public fears.

The Society of American Florists (SAF) worked with the Academic Faculty of Entomology at Ohio State University (OSU) to exhaustively test all parts of the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima). OSU researchers established that rats exhibited no adverse effects – no mortality, no symptoms of toxicity, and no changes in dietary intake or general behavior patterns – when given even unusually large amounts of different poinsettia parts. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) accepts animal tests as valid indicators whether any product or natural growth is harmful to human health.

The OSU research was conducted 23 years ago and other sources have continued to reinforce the poinsettia’s safety.

According to the American Medical Association’s Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants, other than occasional cases of vomiting, ingestion of the poinsettia plant has been found to produce no effect.

After reviewing all available poinsettia related information, the CPSC denied a petition in 1975 to require warning labels for poinsettia plants. Despite its continued circulation, the myth of the poinsettia is gradually losing steam.

Source: Society of American Florists

American Journal of Emergency Medicine Study

In this study, 22,793 cases of poinsettia exposures were electronically analyzed. 98.9% of the exposures were accidental with 93.9% involving children. 96.1% of the exposed patients were not treated in a health care facility and 92.4% did not require any type of therapy.

How do you get a poinsettia to bloom?

To get a poinsettia to reflower you have to keep it in total darkness between 5 pm and 8 am. Start this around October 1st and continue until color shows on the bracts; usually around early to mid-December. Any little exposure to light can prevent flowering. Covering the plant with a light-proof bag and placing it in a closet might work. Night time temperatures above 70-75°F can decay or prevent flowering.

How can I make my poinsettia last during the holiday season?

  • Place the poinsettia in a sunny window.
  • Do not let any part of plant touch cold window panes.
  • Indoor temperatures from 60 to 70°F is ideal for long plant life.
  • High temperatures will shorten the life of the colorful bracts.
  • Water only when the soil is dry.
  • Placing your poinsettia in a cool room 55 to 60°F at night will extend blooming time.
  • Do not fertilize when plant is in bloom.
  • Avoid temperature fluctuations and warm or cold drafts.

I want to keep my poinsettia plants. When can I take them outside?

Move your poinsettia plant outdoors when all danger of frost has passed. Place it in a sunny area but where it will get moderate shade in the afternoon.

Should I fertilize my poinsettia if I am keeping it past the holiday season?

Fertilize once a month with a water soluble houseplant fertilizer.

How often should I water the poinsettia?

Be sure to remove foil covering drain holes before watering. Water only when the soil is dry. Do not let the poinsettia wilt. Do not let it sit with water in the saucer. Empty the saucer.