Poinsettias are native to Mexico where they grow wild along the countryside, brightening the landscape with their bright “blooms” in December. As legend goes, a young girl who had nothing to offer the at the altar of the Virgin and Christ Child on Christmas eve picked poinsettia branches along the way and placed them before the altar. Miraculously the branches bloomed in brilliant red. This lowly bush became known as “Flor de Noche Buena” or “The Flower of Christmas Eve” throughout Mexico.
- Poinsettias grow to heights of 10 to 12 feet in the wild.
- The flower on the poinsettia isn’t really a flower at all. The red or pink bracts — modified leaves — turn bright colors as a result to dark nights.
- Over 61 million poinsettias are sold within a 6 week period each year. (2004)
- 90 percent of all poinsettias are exported from the United States.
- California is the leading producer of poinsettia plants in the US with over 30 million plants raised each year.
- Colors range from brilliant red, pink and white — with red outselling all other colors.
- There are over 100 varieties of poinsettias.
- Poinsettias are not poisonous. According to the University of Illinois, a 50-pound child who ate 500 bracts would get a tummy ache, but suffer no damage from the effects of poinsettias.
- Poinsettias claim over 85 percent of all potted plants sold in the US.
- December 12 is National Poinsettia Day.
- 74 percent of Americans prefer red poinsettias, while 8 percent prefer white and a mere 6 percent prefer pink.
- Poinsettias were introduced to the US in 1828 when Dr. Joel Poinsett, a botanist and Ambassador to Mexico send cuttings home to his plantation in Greenville, South Carolina.
- Aztecs used the colored bracts of the poinsettia plant to make a purple-red dye.
- To induce “flowering” poinsettias are exposed to 12 hours of total darkness each night, beginning in late September or October.
- Potted poinsettias will live for years and develop into woody shrubs if cared for properly.
Keep your potted poinsettia alive after the holidays by placing it in bright filtered light and watering whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. Some leaf drop is normal at this time, but with continued watering the plant will soon produce new foliage. Move it outside for the summer, but remember to bring it in before temperatures drop below 50 degrees F at night.
Other Work by this author:
Tips for Caring for Fresh Holiday Flowers
Five Simple Christmas Floral Arrangements You Can Make Yourself
Winter Houseplant Care