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Poinsettia Plants

Christmas Decorations are Undone Without the Poinsettia Plants!

Poinsettias are very popular holiday flowers and are widely used in Christmas decorations. In this Gardenerdy article, we give you the history of this plant, and tell you how to care for it.
Gardenerdy Staff
Last Updated: Mar 10, 2018
Poinsettia plants are small shrubs which have colorful leaves that comes in a variety of colors. They belong to the Euphorbiaceae family and are native to Mexico. It is a sub tropical plant and reaches a height of about 10 to 12 inches. The colored portion of the plant are the leaves, which are called bracts, while the flowers are small yellow buds that are nearly inconspicuous.

History

The poinsettia plant is native to Central America, where the plant flourished in an area of Southern Mexico known as Taxco del Alarcon. The Aztecs named this beautiful vibrant red plant cuetlaxochitl which bloomed for a few days in the winter. They used the bracts for extracting a purplish dye for use in textiles and cosmetics, while the milky white sap was used to treat fever.

The plant was introduced to the United States by Joel Roberts Poinsett. When he was appointed as the first United States ambassador to Mexico by president Madison, he saw some beautiful blooms while visiting the Taxco area in 1828. He was greatly fascinated by the vivid red color of these plant and immediately send some of the plants to his friends and botanical gardens in America. The plant grew in popularity and, today, is used mostly for decorative purposes during Christmas.

Facts
  • These are perennial flowering shrubs that can grow up to ten feet.
  • Poinsettia Day is celebrated on 12th of December in honor of the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett.
  • These plants grow best in a tropical climate; they cannot withstand frost.
  • Poinsettias are greatly prized during Christmas for their bright red leaves. During the holiday season, almost 85 percent of the sales of potted plants are poinsettias.
  • The highest cultivation of these plants is in the United States, with California being the top producing state.
  • The plant is prized for its bright red leaves. The flowers are very tiny yellow buds that are present in the center.
  • Poinsettias have also been called the flame leaf flower and the lobster flower.
  • The Aztecs used to extract dye from the leaves of this plant.
  • The price is directly proportional to the number of blooms that the plant has. More the number of blooms, more expensive is the plant.
  • There are over a hundred varieties available, out of which red poinsettias are the most popular.
  • Over 65 million poinsettias are sold in United States in a year, the bulk of the sales being in the month of December.
  • Poinsettias comes in a wide variety of colors, like red, white, pink, salmon, yellow, cream, and apricot. There are also an unusual marbled variety available where several colors are blended together.
  • Poinsettia Bowl is the name given to a NCCA bowl game in San Diego.
Plant Care

Poinsettias require a lot of care if you want them to last even after Christmas is over. When you first purchase the plant, place it near the window so that it can get maximum amount of sunlight. To ensure that they bloom for a longer time, keep the plant away from cold drafts as this will make the leaves wilt. Water the plant once a day, but avoid over watering. Ensure that there is a proper channel for the water to drain out. If the plant sits out too long in the water, it will rot and the bracts will wilt. Poinsettias grow well in humid climates, so you need not keep them in a dry place. There are certain things that you should remember when you purchase a poinsettia plant. Choose a plant which has yellow, tightly clustered buds in the center, and whose leaves are a vivid color without any sign of damage. When you notice that the bracts are beginning to lose their color, cut the stems so that they are not more than eight inches above the soil line.

These plants are not poisonous, though the sap from the plant can be an irritant and cause inflammation of skin. Take proper care of the plants and you will be able to enjoy them for a longer time.
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