Poinsettia is popular potted plant which is especially sought-after during the Holiday season. Euphorbia pulcherrima or the poinsettia have bright, red-colored, pigmented leaves that are shaped like stars. The color and shape is what that makes them so popular during Christmas.
Classification of Poinsettia
The red foliage that people believe are the flowers of the plant, are actually modified leaves or colored bracts. The flowers, also known as the cyathia, are small, yellow, or green in color. They are hidden in the center of the leaf bracts.
The history of this plant is extremely interesting. The plant originated in Mexico where it grew as a shrub. The Aztecs used poinsettia plants to help control fever, and as an agent of purification. They even made a purple color dye from the bracts.
Soon, after the Spanish conquest, the flowers were used in the Nativity processions of the Franciscan priests. The name is associated with many legends. It is said that once a poor Mexican girl and her brother brought the flower as a gift to baby Jesus. Hence, this was the origin of the name "Flower of the Holy Night". Some say, a poor child prayed to Christ child for a gift and the plant grew at his feet at the altar. The flowers are also said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. This is due to its red leaves that symbolize the blood of Christ while the white leaves are associated with His purity.
The name of this plant was given in the honor of the former first Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett. Impressed by the bright plants, he sent cuttings from Southern Mexico to his home in South Carolina. Soon, in 1828, he began to cultivate them in his greenhouse. Today, the flowers gross more than 250 million USD in sales during Christmas. In Mexico and Guatemala, this flower is known as the "La Flor de la Nochebuena" (Flower of the Holy Night).
Caring for Poinsettia
You need to plant poinsettia a pot that allows adequate drainage. There should be a big enough hole in the bottom to allow drainage. You should plant it in a good-quality potting soil. Water the plant till the excess water drains off.
You should add more water after checking for aridity. This means you need to touch the soil with your fingers. If it feels dry, add more water. Remember to water only when the soil is dry. Also, to avoid damage, do not touch the leaves frequently.
The pots should be kept in an area in the house that receives abundant sunlight. The plant should receive at least 6 hours of light each day, and the temperature of the room should be about 65 to 70 degrees F. If the room is warm during winters, then you should leave the plant in the coolest room of your house. The poinsettia bracts are a bright red during late March and April. When the poinsettia plant is not in bloom, you should not forget to fertilize it with a houseplant fertilizer. It is important to note that this plant is not frost resistant.
To get poinsettia blooms during Christmas, you need to manipulate the plant's light schedule. Stimulate a short winter day beginning in early October. You should move the plant to the dark areas of the house early evening around 5 pm and morning at 8 am. You should keep doing this till Thanksgiving. Add fertilizer to the plant till it blooms around Christmas.
There are plenty of flower arrangements that you can try to decorate your home with. You can place them in different flower vases or arrange them in large containers.
If you want to arrange the flowers in a vase, you need to leave the stems long enough. Add some colored marbles in the bottom of the vase and place the stems of poinsettia. The marbles will add to the splash of colors to the flower arrangement.
You can place a floral Styrofoam in the bottom of a container. The number of flowers can vary from 2 to 6 depending on your container size. Arrangement of the flowers should be made according to your choice so that it looks attractive and pleasing to the eye. You can try placing the taller stems in the center and shorter ones around them.
There are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias available. Apart from the typical red, you can find them white, yellow, pink, and purple colors. However, the red poinsettia continues to be the favorite. Some people are worried about this plant being toxic. However, the toxicity is relatively mild. The sap of this plant affects people with latex allergies causing skin rashes or diarrhea when consumed.