Poinsettia: 6 facts about your favorite Christmas plant


Posted on Dec. 21, 2020

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Poinsettia is an interesting plant. Every single fact that you will see down below deserves a separate post that will deeper explain its theme.

The Christmas star is surrounded by myths, misconceptions and legends, it killed a child, played its part in a religious miracle and to flower again poinsettia needs darkness, not light. Are you interested now?.. 

Poinsettia: toxic plant

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Let’s start with the most common misconception: poinsettia is toxic for humans and animals. It’s not. 

It all started in 1919 with an urban legend about a two year old child who allegedly died after chewing on poinsettia leaves. In 1944, it was included in H.R. Arnold’s book Poisonous plants of Hawaii and in 1970 the US Food and Drugs Administration stated that “one poinsettia leaf can kill a child”. Later, studies showed that contact with any part of the plant by children or pets often showed now effect, though it may cause mild nausea, diarrhea and vomiting if swallowed.   

Poinsettia: the Christmas plant

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Poinsettia appears in our stores at the end of november together with christmas tree decorations, fireworks and lights, after all it is THE Christmas plant. However, its crimson bract is not the main reason poinsettia is so popular on Christmas. 

Like the plant itself, poinsettia association with Christmas comes from Latin America. According to the legend, there was a young girl too poor to prepare a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. An angel told her to gather weeds from the roadside and to put them on the church altar. Crimson blossoms sprouted from the weeds and became poinsettias. 

From the 17th century, Franciscan friars used poinsettias in Christmas celebrations.  

Poinsettias: care and flowering

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After purchasing poinsettia many are facing the fact that they rarely bloom a second time. Indeed,  caring for poinsettia is easy if you want it to survive, but if your goal is to see it blooming again - the caring process starts to be a little difficult. 

After flowering, you will need to trim your poinsettia and reduce watering. From the beginning of September, you will need to put it in complete darkness for at least 14 hours a day. Usually poinsettias are placed in a closet or under a box. As soon as its bract starts to turn red, you should stop putting it in the dark. 

Poinsettias: name

Joel Roberts Poinsett - American diplomat, US Secretary of War and an amateur botanist, took a liking to a plant while traveling in Mexico, and sent several samples to his greenhouses in South Carolina. In Mexico they called that plant “Mexico flame flower”, but the whole world will soon know it as “Poinsettia”.  

Poinsettia: bract

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It sure is obvious that red poinsettias are most popular. They are bright and colorful, chrismasy. However, there are poinsettias with yellow, pink, white, violet, salmon and multicolored bracts. 

Poinsettia: in a vase

And last but not least, poinsettias flowers and bract can stay fresh in a vase for a long time if you correctly prepare them before. 

Just cut flowers and put stems in hot water (60 degrees minimum), leave them there for 30 seconds and immediately deep them in cold water. This way sap will harden and seal stems that will ensure that cut poinsettia flowers will stay fresh in a bouquet or composition for up to 4 weeks.