Leaves, Not Flowers. Poinsettias include bracts, or colored leaves. The tiny yellow buds in the center of the colored bracts are the actual flowers. More Than Red? Traditional poinsettias are red but they are also available in white, pink and stripes. Not Poisonous. While no one should eat these plants, studies show they are not poisonous to either humans or animals. They have a milky sap inside stems which may cause a skin irritation Look for Flower Buds. Buy plants with tiny flower buds in the middle of the colored leaves. If these aren't present, the plant is already old. Look for White Under Leaf Bumps. Turn leaves over and see if there are little white bumps on the bottom of the leaves. Those are white flies. Don't buy any plants with bumps, the plant will soon be covered in flies. Watch the Wrap. Purchase poinsettias without plastic wrap around the leaves. Plastic releases gases that will cause leaf drop. If you don't have a choice, remove the plastic as soon as you can. Plant Dropping Leaves. Don't buy a plant dropping leaves; it will not recover. Protect the Plant. Keep poinsettia covered with a shopping bag after purchasing it. Poinsettias don't like temperatures below 50F. Expose the plants to cold air as little as possible while getting the plants home. Can You Compost? Yes, poinsettias are safe to compost.