Categories > Poinsettias

Poinsettia History & Care

Poinsettias have been synonymous with the holiday season for years. But how did these vibrant, crimson flowers become Christmas staples?

There is a Mexican legend (Poinsettias originate from Mexico), that goes like this:

A poor Mexican girl who had no gift to present the Christ Child at Christmas Eve Services. Her name was Pepita and as she walked to the chapel with her cousin Pedro, she felt ashamed and saddened. “I am sure, Pepita, that even the humblest gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes,” her cousin Pedro told her, in an effort to reassure her.
Not knowing what else to do, Pepita knelt by the roadside and gathered a handful of common weeds, fashioning them into a small bouquet. Looking at the scraggly bunch of weeds, she felt more saddened and embarrassed than ever by the modesty of her contribution. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she entered the small village chapel.
As she approached the altar, she remembered Pedro’s kind words: “Even the humblest gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes.” She felt her spirit lift as she knelt to lay the bouquet at the foot of the nativity scene.

No sooner did she place the flowers at the alter than they burst into blooms of brilliant red! They were the most beautiful cherry-red blossoms Pepita had ever seen. All who saw them were certain that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle right before their very eyes.
From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the Flores de Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night, for they bloomed each year during the Christmas season and thus, the legend of the poinsettia was born.

To this day, millions of poinsettias are purchased around the holiday season. The most common poinsettia colour is red, accounting for three quarters of all poinsettia sales worldwide. But did you know poinsettias also come in white, pink, orange and cream colours? It’s true!

Interested in learning more about this seasonal wonder? Check out our Poinsettia Care video series on our YouTube channel! Each video is filled with helpful tips on how to keep your poinsettia in perfect condition.

3 Easy Things to Keep your Poinsettia Looking Great: Thing 3 – Creature Comfort

The third thing for caring for your poinsettia is just basic comfort. Again, bearing in mind it’s tropical ancestry, it likes to be comfortably warm – not too hot and not too cold – kind of like Goldilocks’ porridge.

Maintain your poinsettia at room temperature, in the high teens to low 20s Celsius and keep it from areas that are too hot or too cold.

Spots like next to warm forced air vents or fireplaces will dry it out quickly, and do a number on the leaves and flowers, desiccating them and making them crispy.

An area that is notorious for being too chilly is right by the front door that opens up to our freezing winter air, giving the poinsettia regular blasts of subzero freshness.  We get that it’s  awesome to have that poinsettia splash of color at the front door to greet company, but set it back a little further into the house. Draughty window ledges and cold window panes offer the same.  When a poinsettia is chilled it will look wilted – sometimes they recover but other times they do not.

Enjoy this traditional Christmas decoration and all of us at Wallish Greenhouses wish you a most delightful Christmas!

 Contact us today for more information about caring for your poinsettia!

Looking for Fundraising Ideas? Try a Poinsettia Fund Raiser!

 

A Poinsettia Fund Raiser is an effective and simple way to raise needed resources for your favorite cause. We have had interest range from kindergartens, school projects, to sports teams, sports schools, youth groups, and churches.

Here is how we do it at Wallish Greenhouses to keep it simple:

  • We offer florist quality poinsettias grown on location in 4 different pot sizes: 6”, 8”, 10”, and 14”. **Note that this is the diameter of the pot that the poinsettias come in, not the height of the entire plant.
  • We offer poinsettias in 3 different colors: red, pink, and white – and this is how the organizations offer them. It keeps things simple.
  • We ship them free of charge for orders over 30 plants to anywhere in the Edmonton area.
  • The poinsettias are packaged individually in paper sleeves and boxed according to pot size and color. All the boxes are marked accordingly.
  • When the poinsettias arrive at the drop location, some organizations tape a colored ribbon (red, pink, or white) to the paper sleeves to indicate what color they are – it makes it easy to pick them out.
  • When they are sent home, they are wrapped in a plastic gusset bag over the paper sleeve to provide another layer of insulation as they travel into a warm vehicle.

Interested? We’d be happy to chat with you and support you through this process.

Call us at 780-467-3091 or send us a quick email at wglperen@telus.net and we will get in touch with you.

FAQ – Are Poinsettias Poisonous?

The most frequently asked question about poinsettias is whether or not they are poisonous to humans or pets.  The short answer is no, they are not.  There are varying theories as to how this rumor got started, but in any case, it is simply not true.

Poinsettias are members of the Euphorbia family, all of whom possess a milky white sap.  If any problems arise from poinsettias, it is usually caused from this sap which can be irritating on contact. If someone is sensitive, this sap may cause a minor skin irritation, called dermatitis.

As far as ingesting, or eating poinsettias goes, research results done by the University of Ohio in 1971 indicate that poinsettias are not poisonous.  The findings say that for a poinsettia to cause any level of harm to begin, a 50lb child must eat 500 leaves.  Additionally, the milky sap is bitter tasting, so the appeal to eat enough of it to cause illness just isn’t there.

As for the effect poinsettias have on pets, according the Pet Poison Helpline and other sources, the extent of negative outcomes include minor stomach irritation, drooling, and rarely diarrhea.

Interestingly but little known, holly and mistletoe are more dangerous for pets than poinsettias.  And, if anyone is looking for a plant to panic about  — lilies — are toxic to cats — the list of lilies includes: Asiatic lilies, Daylilies, Easter lilies, Stargazer lilies, Tiger lilies, Wood lilies, Japanese Show lilies.  Toxic to both cats and dogs are lily of the valley and gloriosa lily.

Relax and enjoy your poinsettia!

Listed below are some links to articles with further detailed information:

“Poinsettias Poisonous Reputation Persists, Despite Proof to the Contrary”

 

“The Myth of the Poisonous Poinsettia”

 

“Pet Poison Helpline “Poinsettia”

 

Poinsettia Care in 3 Easy Steps

Poinsettias are actually really easy to care for as long as you bear in mind where they come from.  They are tropical plants, native to Mexico, so their needs are unique but not complex.  The first 2 steps will get you to a 95% success rate and hopefully step 3 will ensure a home run.  Enjoy!

  1. Avoid Chilling on the Way Home
  • Because poinsettias are from the tropics, a freezing ride home will do them in. You can tell your poinsettia has been chilled by their wilted looking appearance, especially when they appeared robust and beautiful upon leaving the store.
  • To avoid having them get too cold, make sure that they are dressed in layers (like us) when they enpoinsettia clothedter our winter temperatures. The best wrap for them is in a paper sleeve folded at the top with a plastic sealed bag over top of that as pictured above.
  • Make picking up your poinsettia the last stop of your day so it can go into a warm vehicle and doesn’t have to sit in the cold during other errands.
  • So, no more walking through parking lots with an open plastic sleeve exposing poinsettias to our wintery blasts of cold.
  1. Hold the Water

–      Overwatering is classically the next area that causes frequent death in the life of a poinsettia. Generally poinsettias only need to be watered every week or even 10 days, but remember to check them daily – every hompoinsettia caree is different.

–      To check for water needs, pick up the pot and check its weight – this is how we check in the greenhouse. Once you have watered it so water drains out of the holes at the bottom of the pot, you will know how heavy a fully watered poinsettia weighs.  When the pot is very light, it is time to water.

–      When a poinsettia is overwatered it will get a wilted appearance making you think it needs more water and then the cycle of overwatering begins and perpetuates the problem.

–      There is no need for fertilizing because they are in full bloom and don’t need it.

  1. Environmental Details

–     Regular room temperature is fine for poinsettias.

–     Avoid cold draughts from windows & outside doors – they may get chilled and wilted looking.

–     Avoid hot draughts from heat registers – they may get dried out quickly and get crispy leaves.

 

 

10 Fun Facts About Poinsettias

This is the time of year when greenhouses, malls and Christmas displays boast the colors of red, white and pink of the beautiful poinsettia flower. Here are a few fun and interesting facts about poinsettias to dazzle your friends and associates this holiday season should you be digging for light conversational topics  —

  1. Poinsettias are native to Mexico and were introduced to the USA, and consequently North America, by a gentleman named Joel Roberts Poinsett.  Joel was a man who packed a lot of living and learning in his life, botany being one of his passions. Upon an envoy to Mexico right around Christmas time, he noticed and fell in love with the brilliantly colored beautiful flower and introduced it to the US.
  2. Poinsettias are of the Euphorbia family, related to Euphorbia polychroma, the wonderful spring blooming (and our zone hardy!) Cushion Spurge with its luminous yellow color.
  3. The scientific Latin name for poinsettias is Euphorbia pulcherrima, meaning the most beautiful Euphorbia.
  4. Poinsettias were also called ‘Painted Leaf’, and ‘Mexican Fire Plant’.
  5. The common name of this Christmas flower was dubbed ‘Poinsettia’ in Joel Poinsett’s honor.
  6. All Euphorbias have a milky white sap that is now called latex. This sap can be irritating to skin but it is not toxic.  Back in the day in Mexico, this sap was made into a medicine to treat fevers.
  7. In Mexico, poinsettias were also used to make purple dye for clothing and cosmetics.
  8. The original colors of poinsettias were just red or white.
  9. The colored leaves of the poinsettias are called bracts and are not the flowers. The real poinsettia flowers are the yellow colored blossoms in the center of the bracts.  The colored bracts attract pollinators.
  10. There is a wonderful Mexican story centered around a little girl named Pepita that who has no gift to bring to a nativity in her church that speaks of this beautiful flower – check it out, it’s a lovely short story.

Call us for more information on our beautiful poinsettias!