The Poinsettias Flower

Poinsettias Flower

Poinsettias are native to Mexico. The Aztecs named the poinsettia Cuetalaxochitl and they made a red dye from the withered leaves (bracts). It is called the “Crown of the Andes” by Chile and Peru.

 Scientific Name

These lovely flowers that often adorn our homes at Christmas belong to the Euphorbiaceae family. The botanical name is Euphorbia Pulcherrima. A milky sap comes from some of the plants in this family, which the Aztecs use for medicinal purposes, such as to check fever.

 Geographic Origin

If the ancient Aztecs had not prized poinsettias for their medicinal, commercial and religious value, these plants would have become inconspicuous and if it were not for Joel Poinsett, the first United States Ambassador to Mexico.

An enthusiastic amateur botanist, he discovered the tall, bright red wildflower in December, 1828 while wandering about the countryside. He was captivated by the attractive flowers and sent cuttings back to his greenhouse in South Carolina. The rest is a beautiful history.

 Description and Characteristics

A historian and horticulturist, William Prescott named the Euphorbia Pulcherrima ‘Poinsettia’ to honor Poinsett’s discovery after being asked to give it a new name. Prescott had just finished writing a book, ‘Conquest of Mexico’ where he gave details of Poinsett’s finding.

A Poinsettia bush is the normal size we purchase at the Holiday season, possibly two to three feet high. However, there are some manufactured artificial plants called the Poinsettia bush. These are usually made of silk flowers and quite beautiful.

Beauty Becomes Captive

All who saw the extraordinary plant were enchanted by its unparalleled beauty and within a decade, poinsettias had found a place next to holly and mistletoe as a yuletide tradition.

These horticultural amazements are big business day. One-hundred million prudently planted and harvested potted poinsettias in many sizes, shapes and colors are sold in over 40 countries. Also, their unique silhouette adorns a myriad of holiday merchandise, such as napkins and neckties.

Some Facts About Poinsettias


The Poinsettia Legend is a story told of a poor Mexican girl who had no present for the Christ Child at Christmas Eve Services. On her way to the church, the girl gathered an arm full of weeds to take for the Christ Child.

She hesitated to offer the weeds, but when she brought them from under her wrap, the weeds burst into beautiful flowers. From that day, the red flowers were known as Flowers of the Holy Night, as they bloomed each year at the Christmas Season.

Cultivation and Care

Poinsettias will give you pleasure in your home according to the following:

(1) how mature the plant is,
(2) at what time you purchase the plant, and
(3) how you care for the plant. Poinsettias should maintain their beauty for several weeks, with some varieties remaining attractive for months. The secret is care.

When you take your Poinsettia home, unwrap it carefully and set in indirect light. The plant needs only six hours of light daily. Also, keep the plant from touching cold windows or being too close to them.

How to Care for a Poinsettia

A Short Lesson in Poinsettia Care

1. Poinsettias are a snap to own. They will keep their blooms long after you take down the Christmas decorations. They may even last until Valentine’s Day. After you bring them home, set them in a bright sunny room. Ideal temperature range is 60 – 70 degrees. The plants do not like drafts and they do not like to be near high heat such as a furnace register, or fireplace.

2. Water them thoroughly, then let the soil dry before watering again. Poinsettias are quite forgiving – if they begin to dry out, water them and they will spring back. If the leaves become lighter green, set them in more sunshine – again, they will come right back.

3. When summer comes, your Poinsettia will love to move outside to a sunny location. You can plant it into your garden or a container. Trim the plant into a pretty rounded shape. Feed it fertilizer every two to three weeks.

4/ In the fall, bring the Poinsettia indoors before the first frost. Poinsettias cannot tolerate frost. To make sure you did not bring any “critters” in with your plant, check carefully.

Forcing Poinsettias

The idea of forcing Poinsettia plants to bloom is simple enough. Almost any time between late September to October first, the plant should be placed in total darkness for 12 to 14 hours a day. This is where it’s a little tricky.

Even a small light can upset the method. A black plastic bag with a twist tie works well to keep your plant in total darkness; every morning, take off the twist and gently lower the bag to the floor.

During the day, it should get at least six hours of sunlight or a little more. This process should be followed daily until early November. At this time bring the plant out into the room.

Now with a few prayers, your well-trained green thumb and Poinsettia plant care, your Poinsettia will bloom on through the Christmas holiday.


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Poinsettias Flower Poinsettias Flower Poinsettias Flowers