En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - October 07, 2007

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native poinsettia care
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a poinsettia that I have nursed from last Christmas. It is in big pot and looks really good. I'm trying to make it bloom. I have it out front with a sw exposure. I'm afraid of too much sun Can I plant is outside and if so what exposure? All shade?


Euphorbia pulcherrima, poinsettia, was introduced to th U.S. in 1825 by Joel Robert Poinsett (guess where the common name of the plant came from?), first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico who obtained plants from the wilds of southern Mexico. Since then, hybridization and constant research have created many different cultivars, with varied colors and bloom sizes. But they still need special treatment in order to bloom at all, and certainly to bloom at a specific time.

Apparently, you are not the only person to be puzzled by this, because we found a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer to a very similar question. Rather than try to improve on the work someone has already done, we will just borrow it, and ask you to follow the above link. That question and answer was dated a little later in the year than this, so perhaps you will be able to get your poinsettia to bloom by Christmas time instead of Valentine's, as suggested. However, it is also true that a poinsettia needs year round special attention, so please go to this link on care of poinsettias. If it is too late to have a Christmas centerpiece this year, at least, you will know what to do in the next year to care for it and let it be beautiful for Christmas 2008!

Having originated from southern Mexico, the poinsettia, of course, is not in the usual area of expertise for Mr. Smarty Plants, as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (our home) is focused on the care, protection and propagation of plants native to North America. But guess what? There are two pointsettias, Euphorbia cyathophora (fire on the mountain), and Euphorbia heterophylla (Mexican fireplant), not only native to North America but found in Texas. They are not as spectacular. nor with as many variations as the non-native Euphorbia pulcherrima, but they might be fun to try in your garden. And, since you live in the Austin area, why don't you check out the Fall Plant Sale on October 13 and 14 at the Wildflower Center. And, you can look at a list of the plants (with pictures) at the Plant List site. It doesn't appear a native poinsettia will be for sale this fall, but a lot of other neat stuff is.


Euphorbia cyathophora

Euphorbia heterophylla



More Non-Natives Questions

Care of Jade plant
September 06, 2007 - Hi there, I have a question and really appreciate your time helping me regarding my plant. I bought a Jade plant; 35 yr. old ; very thick stems and healthy at the time of purchase from a very si...
view the full question and answer

Differences between Lantana urticoides and Lantana camara
July 13, 2012 - I have found an orange variety of lantana growning in several location in Jefferson County. Is there any way I can tell for sure if it is L. camara or the native L. urticoides?
view the full question and answer

Prairie remnant threatened by non-native Queen Anne's lace in Dallas
June 09, 2010 - A blackland prairie remnant is being invaded by Queen Ann's Lace. What are the best, least chemical, methods of getting rid of it without damaging the native grasses and wildflowers? Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Why are the leaves on my Laurel hedge turning brown in Everett, WA?
February 22, 2010 - Our laurel hedge seems to have brown leaves on the top of the bush. We haven't had a freezing winter so we are trying to figure out why some of the leaves are brown.
view the full question and answer

Problem with non-native sweet vernal grass, Anthoxanthum odoratum
June 24, 2010 - Hello there Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a question about growing Anthoxanthum odoratum known as sweet vernal grass. I'm trying to get Anthoxanthum odoratum, sweet vernal grass, to grow in my yard becau...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center