Fun poinsettias facts
Photo credit: Baltimore Sun/Jed Kirschbaum
It seems only appropriate, as Christmas approaches, to talk some more about poinsettias.
Or "points" as Kate Blom at Baltimore's Conservatory and Botanic Garden calls them.
The Conservatory is decked in reds, whites, pinks and, yes, oranges for a holiday poinsettia show that should not be missed.
So here are some poinsettia fun facts to toss around at holiday parties.
First, you pronounce the 't,' the 'i' and the 'a.' It is poin-set-tee-ah. Not point-set-ah.
Second, the colored petals, called bracts, are actually leaves. The pea-sized buds in the center of the plant that look like they might be the stamen are actually the flowers. They will mature, change color in some varieties and then just blow away. The don't really "open."
Poinsettias are fussy, and most of us have killed more than our fair share. They like to be wet, but they don't like standing in water. So they need to be watered often, but allowed to drain.
Don't get any water on the bracts.
The blue and purple poinsettias you see for sale aren't grown that way. They are painted with floral spray paint. And it is considered an abomination by true poinsettia fans.
Poinsettias need complete darkness from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m., starting in September for about eight weeks. Any accidental light during that period and your poinsettia is finished.
Growers have been known not only to unscrew the light bulbs in their growing houses to prevent "accidents," they have been known to hide them from well-meaning volunteers who discover their absence and decide to fix things.
Poinsettias have been known to bloom until May when they can move into the garden. That doesn't happen for most of us. First the green leaves drop off because of poor watering habits.
"But the bracts persist, prolonging your guilt trip," said Blom.
Oh. And they aren't poisonous. Children and animals are safe. (Although they do release a milky white sap that can cause a skin irritation.)
The poinsettia show at the Baltimore Conservatory runs Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Jan. 2. Admission is free, but a donation of $2 is greatly appreciated.
And you can buy poinsettias at the show, too, for from $6 to $25, depending on the pot size. But you have to pronounce it right or they won't let you have one.