Poinsettias – Christmas Flowers
Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are popular potted plants, particularly during the Christmas season. Brightly colored and mostly red, a Poinsettia provides effective color in home decor during and after the holiday season. The newer Poinsettia cultivars are long-lasting in contrast to the cultivars that were available a few years ago. Christmas charm is what these amazing Poinsettias hold.
- Kingdom : Plantae
- Divisio : Magnoliophyta
- Class : Magnoliopsida
- Order : Malpighiales
- Family : Euphorbiaceae
- Genus : Euphorbia
- Species : pulcherrima
Plant Type: Shrub
Growing of Plant :
Light: Provide the poinsettia plant with bright indoor light during the winter. Give your poinsettia outdoor sun for the summer, and periods of light and total darkness for two fall months. (More information on this in the Misc. Info section below.)
Water: When it comes to watering the poinsettia plant, provide it with constantly moist potting soil. Do not let this plant dry out or sit in soggy water.
Propagation: It is difficult to propagate this container plant. The poinsettia needs to flower in order to produce seeds (a long period of darkness is required for the plant to flower; see Misc. Info section for more).
Misc. Info: The poinsettia does not tolerate large temperature differences. Keep it between 50 and 70 degrees. It does best as a houseplant in indoor gardens or on stable-temperature balcony gardens.
To get the red color on the plant’s leaves, you must change its normal photoperiod for two months every year. Poinsettias can last for years with no special care, but the container plant will have normal green leaves. It will grow green leaves if you provide this container plant with a normal photoperiod.
To make the poinsettia plant come back with red leaves and a chance of flowering again, follow these instructions.
In March, cut the plant back (it’s okay for your poinsettia to even be leafless). The plant will begin to grow back. You can keep it outdoors in the balcony garden in the summer if sheltered from intense light and winds. In late September, begin the two-month darkness cycle. Give the poinsettia plant 12 hours of complete darkness for two months in a temperature of about 60 degrees. For the best leaf color, also give it 12 hours of bright light during this time. If you complete all of these steps when caring for your poinsettia, you will be able to keep your poinsettia thriving with beautiful red bracts and maybe even some flowers for many Christmas holiday plant displays to come.
Facts About Poinsettias
- Poinsettias are the most popular of the holiday plants.
- 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’.
Poinsettias & Christmas
The ancient Aztecs (the Mexican Indians) prized the Poinsettia as a symbol of purity. Centuries later, Mexico’s early Christians adopted the Poinsettia as their prized Christmas Eve flower. The Mexican Poinsettia, known as the Christmas flower in North America, is used in most Christmas decorations, owing to its bright red color and its blooming season coinciding with the Christmas holiday season.
The Mexican poinsettias are commonly bright red. For some, these star-shaped bracts symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. The Christmas Poinsettia flowers have become a symbol of Christmas and are used as festive decor.
A Mexican legend explains how Poinsettias came to be associated with Christmas. Apparently, a child who could not afford a gift to offer to Christ on Christmas Eve picked some weeds from the side of a road. The child was told that a humble gift, if given in love, would be acceptable in God’s eyes. When brought into the church, the weeds bloomed into red and green flowers and the congregation felt that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle.
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.