In honor of National Poinsettia Day on December 12, we’ve come up with an overview of this favorite Christmas plant.
- The length of time your poinsettia will be in a healthy bloom depends on the maturity of the plant, when you buy it, and how you treat the plant. With care, poinsettias should retain their beauty for weeks, and some varieties will stay attractive for months.
- When selecting your Poinsettia, consider your desired size. Our poinsettia sizes range from mini two-inch plants to large floor plants. Select a Poinsettia with dense and plentiful foliage. Tightly-clustered buds will also ensure your plant lasts beyond Christmas.
- We carry many colors, ranging from classical red, white, and pink to novelty colors such as yellow, aqua, lilac, and green.
- After you’ve made your selection, make sure it is wrapped properly. Exposure to low temperatures even for a few minutes can damage the bracts (leaves).
- Unwrap your poinsettia carefully and place in indirect light. Six hours of light daily is ideal.
- Ideally, they like daytime temperatures of 60 to 70°F and night time temperatures around 55°F.
- Check the soil daily. Be sure excess water can drain into a saucer. Water when soil is dry. Wilted plants will tend to drop bracts sooner.
- With good care, an English Gardens poinsettias will last 6-12 weeks.
- Yellow Poinsettia leaves are often caused by either too much water or too little water. To avoid this, try to keep the soil slightly damp to the touch.
- Fertilize the poinsettia if you keep it past the holiday season. Apply a houseplant fertilizer once a month.
English Gardens carries locally grown poinsettias and an abundant inventory of plants for the holiday season to suit everyone’s color preference and budget
- Poinsettias are the most popular holiday plant.
- Poinsettias are native to southern Mexico and Central America.
- Poinsettias also bloom in cream, lemon, peach, pink colors and with white and gold-splashed leaves.
- Poinsettia’s botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, means “the most beautiful Euphorbia.”
- Poinsettia was named after the former US ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel R. Poinsett who introduced the Poinsettia to the United States.
- Recent research has proved that Poinsettias are not poisonous.
- Poinsettias, at times, reach a height of sixteen feet.
- Poinsettias are also known by other names such as ‘Christmas flower’, ‘lobster flower’, and ‘Mexican flame leaf’.
Fact or Fiction: Is the Poinsettia Poisonous?
Poinsettias are not poisonous! This rumor has existed for nearly eight decades. In 1919, an Army officer’s two year old child allegedly died after eating a poinsettia leaf. While never proved by medical or scientific fact and later determined to be hearsay, the story continues to exist.
The defenders of the poinsettia have pulled out all stops to allay public fears. The Society of American Florists (SAF) worked with the Academic Faculty of Entomology at Ohio State University (OSU) to exhaustively test all parts of the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima). OSU researchers established that rats exhibited no adverse effects – no mortality, no symptoms of toxicity, and no changes in dietary intake or general behavior patterns – when given even unusually large amounts of different poinsettia parts.
According to the American Medical Association’s Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants, other than occasional cases of vomiting, ingestion of the poinsettia plant has been found to produce no effect (Source: Society of American Florists).
History & Background
During the 14th & 16th centuries, the Aztecs used the sap from the poinsettia to control fevers and the bracts (leaves) were used to make reddish dye. Montezuma, the last of Aztec kings, had poinsettia brought into what is now Mexico City by caravans, because poinsettias could not be grown in high altitude.
A poinsettia plant grew in a crack in German botanist Wilenow’s greenhouse and he was so dazzled by the color that he gave the botanical name in 1833: Euphorbia pulcherrima to the plant which means “very beautiful”.
Joel Roberts Poinsett was the first United States Ambassador to Mexico being appointed by President John Quincy Adams in the 1820’s. Because of his interest in botany he introduced the American elm into Mexico. During his stay in Mexico he wandered the countryside looking for new plant species. In 1828 he found a beautiful shrub with large red flowers growing next to a road. He took cuttings from the plant and brought them back to his greenhouse in South Carolina. Even though Poinsett had an outstanding career as a United States Congressman and as an ambassador he will always be remembered for introducing the poinsettia into the United States.
William Prescott, a historian and horticulturist, was asked to give Euphorbia pulcherrima a new name as it became more popular. At that time Mr. Prescott had just published a book called the ‘Conquest of Mexico’ in which he detailed Joel Poinsett’s discovery of the plant. Prescott named the plant the poinsettia in honor of Joel Poinsett’s discovery.
A nurseryman from Pennsylvania, John Bartram is credited as being the first person to sell poinsettias under its botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima.
In the early 1900’s the Ecke family of southern California grew poinsettias outdoors for use as landscape plants and as a cut flower. Eventually the family grew poinsettias in greenhouses and today is recognized as one of the leading producer of poinsettias in the United States.
In nature, Poinsettias are perennial flowering shrubs that were once considered weeds.
Poinsettias are not frost-tolerant. They will grow outdoors in temperate coastal climates, such as Southern California beach communities. In the ground, they can reach 10 feet tall. The Legend of the Poinsettia
The “Legend of the Poinsettia” originates from Mexico. It tells of a girl named Maria and her small brother Pablo. They were very poor, but always looked forward to the Christmas festival. Each year, a large nativity scene was erected in the village church and the days prior to Christmas were filled with parades and parties.
The two children wished they could give something to the church for the Baby Jesus, but they had nothing. One Christmas Eve, Maria and Pablo set out for church to attend the service. Along the way, Maria stopped to kneel by the roadside and pick some weeds, fashioning them into a small bouquet. She had decided to take the posy as a gift for the Infant Christ in the manger scene.
Of course, other children teased the pair when they arrived with their humble gift, but Maria and Pablo said nothing. They knew they had given what they could. Then, as Maria lay the bouquet at the foot of the nativity scene, the top green leaves miraculously transformed into bright-red petals. Soon, the manger was surrounded by beautiful star-like flowers and all who saw the sight were convinced they had witnessed a Christmas miracle. From that day forward, the bright-red flowers became known as the Flores de Noche Buena…”Flowers of the Holy Night”…for they bloomed each year during the Christmas season.
What’s in a Name?
In the language of the Aztecs, the Poinsettia was called Cuitlaxochitl, meaning “flower that grows in residues or soil.”
Today the plant is known in Mexico and Guatemala as “”La Flor de la Nochebuena” (Flower of the Holy Night or Christmas Eve). In Chile and Peru, the Poinsettia is called the “Crown of the Andes”.
Poinsettias have also been called the lobster flower and the flame-leaf flower, due to the red color.
The word Poinsettia is traditionally capitalized because it is named after a person, Joel Roberts Poinsett. December 12 is Poinsettia Day, in remembrance of Joel Roberts Poinsett.