As we enter the holiday season, many people might be receiving, giving or caring for poinsettias. Here are a few fun facts and care tips about poinsettias.

Ten Interesting Facts About Poinsettias: (Taken from the University of Illinois Extension Poinsettia Facts Page):

No flower says Christmas like the beautiful poinsettia; Poinsettias are part of the Euphorbiaceae or Spurge (yes, same family as the weed). Botanically, the plant is known as Euphorbia pulcherrima; Poinsettias ooze a milky sap, some people, particularly those with latex allergies might have a skin reaction; Poinsettias are NOT poisonous. The leaves do have an awful taste (or so I have been told)!; The showy colored parts of poinsettias that most people think of as the flowers are actually colored bracts (modified leaves); Poinsettias have also been called lobster flower and the flame-leaf flower due to the red color; Joel Roberts Poinsett introduced the poinsettia plant to the United States from Mexico. Poinsett was a botanist, physician and the first United States Ambassador to Mexico; In Mexico, the poinsettia is a perennial shrub that can grow 10-15 feet tall; There are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias available today. They come in colors like to traditional red, white, pink, burgundy, marbled and speckled. (In Manhattan, Kansas, you can even buy purple ones!); Over 70 percent of all poinsettias purchased in the US are grown in California and Dec. 12 is Poinsettia Day, which marks the deal of Joel Roberts Poinsett in 1851.

Modern poinsettia varieties stay attractive for a long time if given proper care. Place your poinsettia in a sunny window or the brightest area of the room, but don't let it touch cold window panes. The day temperature should be 65 to 75 degrees F. with 60 to 65 degrees at night.

Temperatures above 75 degrees will shorten bloom life, and below 60 degrees may cause root rot. Move plants away from drafty windows at night or draw drapes between them to avoid damage from the cold.

Poinsettias are somewhat finicky in regard to soil moisture. Avoid overwatering because poinsettias do not like "wet feet."

On the other hand, if the plant is allowed to wilt, it will drop some leaves. So how do you maintain proper moisture? Examine the potting soil daily by sticking your finger about one-half inch deep into the soil.

If it is dry to this depth, the plant needs water. When it becomes dry to the touch, water the plant with lukewarm water until some water runs out of the drainage hole, then discard the drainage water.

Are Poinsettias Poisonous? I get this question a lot this time of year.

At times, an old time rumor is resurrected that poinsettias are poisonous. This is not true. Though there may be an allergic reaction to the milky sap, there has never been a recorded case of poisoning.

This rumor has been so persistent that members of the Society of American Florists have sought to dispel it by eating poinsettia leaves for the press.

However, the sap can cause mild irritation or nausea in pets, especially kittens and puppies. Best idea is to keep them out of reach!

You can learn more about poinsettias and their care on the University of Illinois Extension Poinsettia Pages, found at http://extension.illinois.edu/poinsettia/care.cfm.

Have a great weekend!