Here are 5 reasons why I love poinsettias.1 Tradition
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a generous helping of poinsettias scattered around the house. Newer varieties last a lot longer than older types, which means they’ll look great throughout the holiday season and well into the new year.
When I was a kid, poinsettias came in three basic colors: pink, red, and white. But, today there’s a host of colors and bi-colors available that look great with any color scheme in your home. Newer colors include salmon, cream, apricot, and yellow as well as a host of marbled, spotted, and variegated combinations. Leaf shapes vary, too.
Poinsettia flowers are actually colorful bracts or modified leaves that surround the plant’s true flowers (the tiny yellow button-like structures in the center). These bracts can hold their color for months. Poinsettias are not poisonous despite a long-held myth. Of course, eating a poinsettia might give you a bad stomach ache, so it’s still smart to keep the plants out of the reach of inquisitive toddlers or animals.
Poinsettias have an interesting history. A native of Mexico, they were first “discovered” by Joel Roberts Poinsett, American’s first ambassador to Mexico in 1825. He eventually sent some plants back to John Bartram, a noted plant explorer from Philadelphia, Bartram shared some plants with Pennsylvania nurseryman Robert Buist who was the first person in the U.S. to sell poinsettias to the public.
Although they are tropical in nature, poinsettias are a pretty tough plant that thrives on little care. As long as you water them whenever the soil feels dry to the touch, they’ll be just fine. Although they prefer bright light for long term care, they’ll survive in darker rooms during the holidays. After the new year, you can keep them going as a houseplant or toss them on the compost pile if they’ve overstayed their welcome. In frost-free regions, poinsettias can be grown outdoors in the landscape where they can grow 6 to 8 feet tall. Although it is possible to get indoor plants to bloom again the next year, they never really bloom as well as when you buy them at the garden center.
Written by Doug Jimerson