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Pointsettias have South Carolina roots

Columbia, SC (WLTX)--Today we celebrate National Pointsettia Day and the popular Christmas plant first came to the Unites States in South Carolina.

In Mexican folklore, there is a story of a little poor girl who had nothing to bring to church for Christmas. On her way to church, she picked some plants by the side of the road. As she entered the church, the ends of the leaves turned into bright, brilliant red flowers. You guessed it... Poinsettias. How to Grow and Care for Poinsettias

Originally from Mexico and Central America, Poinsettias are by far the most popular of flower plants during Christmas. As a matter of fact, they are the largest flowering plant crop in the U.S. with sales of over 63 million pots! Native to the warmer southwestern U.S. climates and Mexico, Poinsettias are susceptible to cold and frost. So, when you bring them home in cold weather, make sure to bring them right home. Don't leave them in your car and go back to your Christmas shopping.

Did you Know? Poinsettia Day is December 12th. It was declared in honor of the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett on December 12, 1851. Poinsettias are not poisonous as many believe. But eating them could give you a stomach ache. Selecting Healthy Plants:

Look for lots of dark green leaves and bright colored flowers, called Bracts. If either the leaves or the flowers are dry or brown around the edges, select another plant. Look for flowers that are completely open. Poinsettias are slow to open, but once they bloom, the flowers will remain full and attractive for several weeks.

If the weather is cold, make sure to wrap up the plant well for the trip from the store to the car. Even short exposure to cold and wind can damage your new Poinsettia plant before it is even home.

Poinsettia are propagated by seeds. However, Poinsettia seeds are difficult to find. Almost all plants forced to bloom and sold near Christmas time. Caring for Poinsettia Plants:

Poinsettias are easy to keep. They will retain their blooms long after you have put away the Christmas decorations. If you are lucky, they will last until Valentines Day. After bringing them home, keep them in a sunny room.. Ideal temperature range is 60 - 70 degrees. They do not like drafts, And, they do not like being placed near high heat like a furnace vent or fireplace.

Water thoroughly, then let the soil dry between watering. Poinsettias are forgiving. If they begin to dry out, water them and they bounce right back. If the leaves turn lighter green, give more sunshine and......they bounce right back.

For growing poinsettia plants during the summer, you can move your plant outdoors to a sunny location. Plant it directly into your garden or into a container. Give it a good trimming, into a nice rounded shape. Apply general purpose fertilizer every two to three weeks.

Bring the plant indoors before the first frost. Poinsettias can not withstand frost. Check carefully to be sure you did not bring in any "critters" in with your plant.

Did you know? Poinsettias can grow up to 10 feet. But, to grow them this big you will need a few years in a tropical climate that does not experience frosts. />

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