Every year I try to be blasé about the poinsettias. I even go so far as to say “Oh no, here come the poinsettias”. Then those big red, fluffy ivory and spectacular multicolored bracts fill the place and once again I’m smitten by the plant that brings breath-taking color to the drab months of November, December, January (February, March…).
Euphorbia pulcherrima, known as the poinsettia is named for Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. Minister to Mexico. The plant is native to Mexico where it is called Flor de la Noche Buena and where it can grow to 13 feet tall (yikes!). We owe the hybrid varieties we use to decorate our homes, businesses, schools, event venues, etc. to the Ecke family who popularized the poinsettia throughout the 20th Century and into the 21st.
Old Wives’ Tales Exploded:
1. Poinsettias are poisonous. Not true. While they can be mildly irritating if eaten they are not considered to be toxic.
2. Poinsettia plants can re-bloom year after year. Well, we have a handout on doing it, but unless you want to spend a lot time, find a prime place for a fairly unattractive plant and be rewarded with bracts approximately the size of a hamster’s ear I’d suggest just getting a new one next year.
1. Poinsettias can’t spend much time outdoors during the holiday season. 55 degrees is as cold as they can get and really they’re much happier above 60, so don’t leave one in the car.
2. Likewise their soft, delicate bracts are easily damaged by crushing, bending, or hot or cold drafts.
3. Even though they are technically Euphorbias they can’t stay dry for long periods of time. Water them when the soil surface is dry and make sure they don’t sit in water.
Although red is so totally gorgeous and “Christmasy”, both white and Cortez Burgundy are extremely elegant. Ice Crystals and Ice Punch are nearly fluorescent, walking the line between red and pink. Ruby Frost and Jingle Bells (aka Shimmer Surprise) probably take the cake for unique. But then there are the FANTASY poinsettias which are painted and glittered in every crazy, gorgeous color: purple, turquoise, orange, blue…We really have a size and color for everyone’s holiday decorating. Come and start enjoying the poinsettias with me!