Christmas Spotlight On: Poinsettias & Cacti


For many, it just isn’t Christmas without a Poinsettia (or six) on the dining room table or near the fireplace. Traditionally red or white, Poinsettias now come in all shades from pink to orange, with stunning bi-color varieties as well as painted and glittered poinsettias that are now somewhat common as well. There really is something for everyone.

Poinsettias are frequently used as holiday decor without cultural needs being considered, and then we wonder why they waste away and die. Poinsettias require bright, direct sun, but they should never sit in water. The best practice would be to water them, let them sit for a few minutes, then come back and dump out any residual water. Poinsettias also really appreciate a little added humidity in the air; misting them will leave marks on the leaves, so consider adding a humidifier nearby.

Many people have avoided Poinsettias for years due to their reputation for being poisonous to children and pets, but this is greatly exaggerated. Poinsettias are mildly irritating to mouths and stomachs, but there has never been a reported death from ingesting them. They taste terrible, so the chances of more than a bite being taken are very slim.

Christmas Cactus

If you’re still concerned about Poinsettias, why not consider a Christmas Cactus? While they are not an actual cactus, they are succulents that grow more like a long, green branch with flowers at the end of them. They come from the rainforests of Brazil, so emulating that environment with good soil, lots of humidity, and little sun exposure will bring you more success than you know what to do with.

Quite seriously, these long-lived plants look much better when leaf segments are twisted off to keep the plants looking full. The pulled-off segments can be stuck right back into the soil to create a larger plant or you can start new plants to share with friends and family.

Christmas cacti begin to bud up when the days grow short and tend to bloom at Christmas. They come in a full range of colors, from red to coral to pink and purple, and they set the perfect holiday mood while also having the potential to become a long-lasting gift themselves, if you care to share.

iScape it

You can use iScape to try out both Poinsettias and Christmas Cacti before you buy. Just snap a photo of the area you’re thinking of placing your new holiday plant and iScape will do the rest. It’s so simple and fun, give it a try!