The History of the Poinsettia
Most people don’t realize this, but the poinsettia is the most recognized plant on the planet. Its origins date back centuries to Mexico where the Aztecs would use the sap from the plant for medicinal purposes as well as making a dye out of the red leaves, which are also called bracts. The Aztecs called the poinsettia Cuetlaxochitl. In nature, poinsettias are tropical, so you unfortunately cannot plant them outside in New York during the holidays.
The poinsettia first came to the United States in 1825 by way of Joel Poinsett, who at the time was the U.S. Diplomat to Mexico. He was a botanist and brought a cutting back to the U.S. Later in the 20th century, the Ecke Farm of California was responsible for mass-producing the plant and introducing it as the Christmas Tradition it has become. In fact, 90% of all poinsettias grown in the world today originated from the Ecke Farm.
- Poinsettias are not poisonous
- December 12th is National Poinsettia Day
- There are over 100 varieties of poinsettias grown in the world today
- Poinsettias are grown commercially in all 50 States
- California is the top producing poinsettia state
- 80% of all poinsettias are purchased by women
- Even though they come in many colors, 74% of Americans prefer red poinsettias
- Poinsettias are the top selling potted plant in the U. S. even though most are sold in a 6 week period
- Poinsettias represent over 85% of all potted plant sales during the holiday season
- The NCAA has a Bowl Game in San Diego every year called the Poinsettia Bowl
When you bring your poinsettia home, keep it in a bright sunny location in your house. Keep it in a room that doesn’t fall below 65 degrees at night. The poinsettia prefers moist soil that is not too wet. Water the soil when it is slightly dry to the touch. Poinsettias will last well after the holiday season is over, so when the red flowers start to turn, cut the plant back and give it a good shot of fertilizer. You can enjoy this as a nice tropical houseplant with attractive green foliage. In the late spring, transplant it to a new planter and keep it outside in your yard. Mid September, bring your poinsettia back inside and with a little luck it will re-flower for you the following holiday season.
So this Christmas when you are standing around the eggnog with friends and family, “wow” them with your knowledge of the Poinsettia Plant. At the very least, it could liven up a dull holiday party.