I don’t know about you, but I love this time of year. It’s a little cooler now, but the sun still shines and plants are still growing here in Southern California. A plant that I am now starting to see frequently is the poinsettia and today I would like to tell you all about poinsettia plant care.
The vibrantly colored poinsettias go hand in hand with this time of year. Ever since Thanksgiving, I have seen poinsettias decorating outdoor malls and sold at a variety of stores. Their bright red color is hard to miss.
Red is not the only color poinsettias come in, which I will further discuss below. Let’s first take a look at the history of the poinsettia plant.
Although it is hard to miss poinsettias seen they are seen all over the place right now, they are not native to the United States. The poinsettia plant is originally from Central America, specifically in Southern Mexico in an area once called Taxco del Alarcon.
The Aztecs used the poinsettia plant for a variety of uses and purposes. Aztecs would use poinsettias for decorations as well as other uses. They also used poinsettias for cure ailments, and take out the dye for clothing and makeup.
Poinsettias get their name from Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779-1851), the first United States Ambassador to Mexico, from 1825-1851. He fell in love with the red-flowered plants he saw in the Taxco part of Mexico and had some sent back to his Greenville, South Carolina plantations.
The plant’s name in the world of botany is Euphorbia pulcherrima. Everyone today calls the plant by the name it was given in honor of the man who introduced it to the United States, poinsettia. You can read more about the history of the poinsettia here at The History and Legend of the Poinsettia.
Along with the history of poinsettia plants, I want to also tell you some interesting facts about these festive “flowers”.
10 Poinsettia Facts
There are many interesting facts about poinsettia plants. Below are 10 poinsettia plant facts.
- Despite its humble beginnings, poinsettias now come in over 100 varieties. A few of these are mentioned below.
- There is a day dedicated to poinsettias! December 12 is poinsettia day. This is also the day that Poinsett died.
- The colored parts of poinsettias are not flowers but leaves. The modified leaves, called bracts are the flowers, which are located in the middle of the plant.
- In Spain, poinsettia plants are their Easter flower, called “Flor de Pascua”.
- Despite popular believe, poinsettia plants are not poisonous.
- California is the top producer of poinsettias in the United States. That doesn’t surprise me since I now see poinsettias everywhere I go!
- Other names for poinsettias are the lobster flower and flame leaf flower, because of the popular red color.
- Poinsettias are known as “la flor de la Nochebuena” Guatemala and Mexico, which means Christmas Eve or Flower of the Holy Night.
- A milky sap comes out of many of these plants. People that are allergic to latex may get irritated skin if they come in contact with the sap.
- Americans spend over $250 million on these colorful plants.
Types of Poinsettia Plants
As stated above, the red poinsettia is the most common color of poinsettia plants, although there are also a variety of types and colors. Surprisingly, there are over 100 types of poinsettias. Below are some common types of poinsettia plants.
This poinsettia has the common brightly colored red leaves. These early bloomers were made to meet up with the demand of poinsettias during the holidays. These are hard to pass by with their distinct, vibrant colored leaves.
White poinsettias were first available in 1970. Around the year 2000, Syngentia Flowers made Whitestar, a white variety of poinsettia. These plants produce their white leave just in time for Thanksgiving.
This type of poinsettia has dark orange leaves that may remind the viewer of a colorful sunset. Ecke Ranch were the first successful growers of these vibrantly colored poinsettias. Orange Spice keep their color for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
This type of poinsettia has beautiful white and red marbling on its leaves. More white shows as the poinsettia plant leaves grow. These pretty plants almost look like frost has fallen on them.
These poinsettias are red with white speckling, which is called “jingling”. The edges of the leaves are a reddish pink, while the rest of the leaf is splattered with white.
This variety of poinsettia displays a lighter color of red than the traditional poinsettia. These pretty leaves show different shades of coral and make great centerpieces during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
These unique looking plants have a pink center with cream edges on their leaves. Their stems are strong enough where they won’t break easily. These poinsettias also last awhile in homes.
Check out more descriptions and pictures of different poinsettias here at Colorful Poinsettia Plants that Pop.
The poinsettia plant is a small tree or shrub and can grow up to 2-13 feet high. Poinsettias need bright filtered light or set on a windowsill where they can get plenty of sunshine. Ideal temperatures for them during the day are around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Regular watering is best for poinsettias, but also don’t let them sit in water. You can empty the containers they are in or make sure the container has holes at the bottom to let the water drain through. You can find more details on how to make holes in your container by reading How to Start a Garden from Scratch.
Bloomin, Bloomin Again
Think your poinsettia is done after the holidays? Think again! Once it starts to lose its colorful leaves, you don’t have to dump it!
With some planning, practice, and patience, you can encourage your poinsettia to bloom again. Keep watering your poinsettia until around the middle of springtime, then let the stems shrivel and dry out. Keep the plant in a cool place.
Prune your poinsettia back until its barely above soil and repot it at the end of spring. You can fertilize the poinsettia once it starts growing again. Houseplant fertilizer will work well while you have your poinsettia indoors.
In the summer, the poinsettia can be placed outside but in a shady area. Continue to fertilize and water the plant on a regular basis during this time. Pinch the leaves that grow out to encourage more growth.
After this, you will want to put the plant back indoors. Keep it in a sunny place, but also put in a dark room for several hours every day in the fall. This may take a few tries but through trial and error you should get more colorful leaves by doing this.
Poinsettia Plant Care
If you have read everything so far then congrats! I hope you have learned a thing or two about caring for poinsettias. Let me know what you think about poinsettia plant care in the comments below.
Happy growing and happy holidays!
Kyla Matton Osborne says
I love the traditional red poinsettias that we are used to seeing in all the stores this time of year, but the white or cream-coloured ones are super pretty too! I’ve never tried to prune one back and keep it outdoors for the summer. It’s good to know this is an option.
I love the traditional red poinsettias too, but it’s nice to know we have more options now. Getting one of each kind/color would make a beautiful display! Thank you for commenting!
We have these red plants in the U.K. too at Christmas and I’ve recently seen the white ones too. The problem is that they love light and we don’t have much of that in December! It’s dark until 8am and then dark by 3.30pm! Great post though and thank you so much for joining in with #thechristmaslinky
Awesome! I wasn’t sure if they were available in the UK or not. Wow, you guys have shorter days than we do! They probably don’t need any more light than the average plant, at least 6 hours. You are welcome! I love those linkies of yours!
Janice Gill says
Great in-depth post. And lovely photos of different varieties. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you! I love how many varieties there are now of poinsettias. It makes it more fun to decorate with them!
This is great post! My aunt loved gardening and I can share her this post. I love seeing poinsettia plant all around during holidays and makes it more special on the Christmas day. I never thought about the poinsettia care part. Great share!
That is great! Yes, feel free to share this to your aunt and others who would benefit from knowing how to care for poinsettias. Thank you for reading!
Tonya - plant + shoot says
Hi Ann – thanks for this post! Every year I seem to kill off my Poinsettias. I now think I have been watering them too much. Perhaps I shall pick up a plant this week and give it another go!
You are welcome! Yes, get another poinsettia! Maybe you will have better luck with it this year!