Ashleigh Smith + photo

Ashleigh Smith

Dec 13
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Why Are Poinsettias Associated With Christmas?

You may have noticed more red and leafy plants being displayed in the homes of your friends, family, and around town. These poinsettias have come to be known as the Christmas flower and their use in this season goes back to its origin in Southern Mexico. The legend describes a young, poor girl who was attending a Christmas Eve religious service. As it was customary to bring a gift to leave at the nativity scene she wanted to bring something, but didn’t have the money to do so. As she was walking to the service she picked some weeds as the only thing she could offer. When she laid her bouquet at the nativity, the weeds turned to beautiful red flowers. This legend has given the Poinsettia another name, “Flores de Noche Buena,” also known as Flowers of the Holy Night.They were only known as Poinsettias after being introduced to the United States by a U.S. ambassador to Mexico in the 1800s. Eventually they would be produced and widely advertised as the holiday gift and decoration they have become today.

Poinsettia Care

January: Fertilize as you see new growth, maintain enough light and water.

February: Check your plant for insects. If it is starting to develop long and leggy stems cut them back to about 5 inches. This will stimulate stronger growth.

March: Prune away faded and dry leaves and branches. Remove any leaves on the soil surface as these will encourage pests and disease. If roots are showing cover with additional soil. Keep in a bright location.

May: Trim a couple of inches off the branches to encourage more side branching. Transplant into a container from the original pot. When new growth appears start fertilizing. Fertilizer applications should be made with an all-purpose household plant fertiilzer every 3-4 weeks.

June: Move the plant outside for the summer to a location with indirect light.

July: Trim and move the plant into full sunlight, water, and fertilize.

September: Move indoors to a spot that gets 6 hours or more of direct light a day. Reduce fertilizer use to a quarter of the recomended amount.

October: Give 16 hours of uninterupted darkness and 8 hours a day of bright light. It is very important that the periods of darkness are not interupted by even the slightest amount of light. Maintain night temperatures in the low 60 degree Fahrenheit range. Continue watering and fertilizing at the reduced amount. During the periods of light rotate the plant to ensure it is getting light evenly.

November: Place the poinsettia in a sunny area with at least 6 hours of light a day, discontinuing the extended dark periods. Reduce water application and stop fertilizing.

Fun Facts About Poinsettias

Beyond the traditional red coloring, poinsettias also come in white, cream, pink, purple, orange, yellow, and varigated patterns.

The well recognized color portion actually isn't a flower, it is made up of bracts which are modified leaves.

California is the top Poinsettia producing state in the U.S.

When left to grow in their native environment, Poinsettias can grow up to 15 ft tall.

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