Jean Allsopp and Van Chaplin
Poinsettias are simply the blooms for the holidays. No other plants will create a greater show of color in your home. In shades of red, pink, yellow, and white, the blossoms illuminate this special time of year. Though they're stunning when displayed in containers, there is more to these flowers than meets the eye.
Around the House
Potted poinsettias make great gifts and seasonal decorations. They are inexpensive and readily available at nurseries, home-improvement centers, and grocery stores. But sometimes you just want something more, and using them as cut flowers provides lots of options.
An immediate bonus is that you get the best of both worlds. You can enjoy them while they are in pots and again when you cut the stems. You have the best advantage when making arrangements. Freed from their containers, they are no longer the bulky plants that take up so much room, so you can use them in tighter spaces.
If you want a distinctive arrangement for the kitchen, place a casual grouping of poinsettia blooms in glass bottles. It doesn't take a large poinsettia to have a big impact once it's cut. Even small plants can easily yield three blossoms.
Or for something special, dress up your holiday table with single-bloom arrangements using one color or selection of poinsettia. Find a short, shallow vase (or a tiny, clear glass dish) to hold each bloom. Then position one at each place setting. Next, using a slightly taller vase, repeat the single blossoms down the center of the table. Add some candles for a simple, elegant display.
For an impressive but gracious arrangement, make our poinsettia tree using Oasis Design Rings and cake stands. To find step-by-step instructions, visit Creating the Poinsettia Tree.
Tip: If you want a little something extra in your arrangements, mix the flowers with evergreens from your yard. Snip holly branches, magnolia leaves, smilax, or other greenery. Red nandina berries work well with red and white selections of poinsettias.
Making the Cut
Poinsettias exude a milky sap when they are cut or broken. The sap is not poisonous but may irritate the skin, so you might want to use gloves. The secret to making poinsettias work as cut flowers is searing the stems after cutting them. Use a pillar candle, which will allow you to keep your hands free, and have a napkin handy to blot the sap until you are ready to sear the stem. Cut each stem, and sear it quickly to avoid letting too much sap drip out. The sap will boil or bubble under the flame. When you remove the larger leaves on some selections, such as Winter Rose, you will also need to sear the points where the leaves were attached.
Place seared stems in tepid water with a floral preservative added to condition and extend the life of the blossoms. The stems are hollow and will absorb water once seared. You will know within the hour whether the stem was correctly seared. If you do it right, the blossom will remain upright. If not, it will begin to droop. You can recut the stem and sear again, but it's better to start over with a fresh bloom.
Extend the life of your cut flowers by changing the water every day. You may be surprised by how much water the poinsettias will drink once they're cut, so check levels frequently. Always add more floral preservative with every water change.
No matter how you decide to display your poinsettias, you can't go wrong. Take time to enjoy these simple gifts of the season. But remember, the greatest blessings that we have are the moments we share with our friends and families.