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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog

Poinsettia – More than a Potted Plant


The Poinsettia is the traditional Christmas flower. It is beautiful as a potted plant, but can be much more. Poinsettia's can be used as cut flowers and in various holiday crafts.

David Robson, Extension Horticulturist with the Springfield Extension Center says that, "While poinsettias are tough tropical plants, occasionally stems break off or bend during transport or are accidentally bumped. If caught soon enough, you can use those bloom stems for decorations."

David explains that poinsettias are members of the Euphorbia family, characterized by milky sap in the stems. To use the flowers in arrangements, it's important that the stems are sealed.

Whether you accidentally break a stem, or want to use the brightly colored leaves and flowers in an arrangement or vase, cut the "blooms" with at least four inches of stem. Immediately seal the cut end by dipping in boiling water for five to ten seconds. Another alternative is to hold the cut end over a flame for fifteen seconds. Make sure hands are protected with a kitchen mitt to avoid burning. Sealing prevents the sap from oozing from the cut and, thus, preventing the cut stem from wilting.

If stems are too long and need to be shortened, you'll have to reseal the end again.

Robson explains that "blooms" should last a week or more. Make sure the cut end is in water or a wet florist block such as Oasis. Discard flowers when wilted and leaves start falling.

Poinsettias can also be used in holiday crafts. According to Ecke.com – the website of the largest poinsettia grower in the United States – the following are good options to try.

Dried poinsettias can be incorporated into greeting cards, collage photo frames, and laminated hanging ornaments. Or use felt to cut out a poinsettia edging to trim a Christmas stocking or tree skirt. Use carved rubber stamps to print poinsettias onto cards, fabric, and more. Or, use moldable foam blocks impressed with poinsettia leaves to add photo-realism to envelopes, notepaper, and cards.

If you are a sewer, add poinsettias to fabric pieces using foundation piecing (a simple template-free quilting technique), appliqué (hand, machine, and "no-sew" fusible), stencils or fabric markers. Project examples might include pillows, wall hangings, mantel topper, table runner, napkins, place mats, and more.

Of course, be sure to put a real potted poinsettia in your home as well. Besides the Christmas tree, nothing seems to say Christmas as much as a brightly colored poinsettia.



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