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Poinsettia is native to Central America and was brought to the United States for cultivation in 1828 by Joel Poinsett.  In their native environments, these plants reach 15 feet tall by about the same width. 

Named after
Poinsett, its chief promoter, the plant was commonly known as "poinsettia"  by 1836.

Poinsett died on Deccember 12, 1851, in the heart of his plant’s blooming season.

While its native coloring is red coloring, the poinsettia has subsequently evolved into many different colors and varieties. It now blooms in colors of brilliant crimson, red, pink, white, salmon, orange, yellow, purple and blue. Some are the result of color additives that give the blooms their brilliant colors; others are created through hybridization. They also come in dual shades of pink and white, red with white speckles, and in double shades of pink.

poinsettia have rounded petals, others have jagged ones and some varieties even contain a double-petal bloom like the ‘winter rose’ variety.


In Central America, poinsettia are said to have originated with a couple of poor native children who wanted to present a gift to the Christ child at the Christmas Eve services. Sad that they could not bring riches to him, they gathered some weeds along the roadside on their way to the church to present at the foot of the nativity scene. They remembered the saying “that even the most humble of gifts, if given in love, will be accepted in his eyes.”

After the children laid the bouquet of weeds down by the nativity, the plant suddenly burst into blooms of brilliant red and all who had witnessed it swore they had seen a Christmas miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers of the poinsettia have been known as the Flowers of the Holy Night, for they bloom each year during the Christmas season.

Care and Maintainence

Poinsettias prefer a bright, diffused light while in bloom. The best location foir them in a home is away from drafts, temperature extremes of hot and cold, and direct sunlight.

These are tropical plants, so keep them indoors if the temperatures are going to be under 60-70 degrees. A cold poinsettia will turn yellow and drop its leaves.

Poinsettias do not like to be fertilized while in bloom, but require it afterward when they resume their vegetative growth period. 

Water moderately. Poinsettias will drown or get sick if they get too much water. Only when the soil feels dry should a poinsettia be watered.

After the holidays, when the bracts start to drop, the plant will go into a dormant stage for about a month before starting new growth. When the new growth begins, place the plant in a well-lit location and lightly feed it with a general purpose fertilizer. When outside temperatures rise above 50 degrees, with lows not much colder, poinsettia plants can be placed in pots or planted outside to continue growing for best growth.

By the time autumn arrives, the poinsettia should have regained its lush, bushy character. 


Getting a poinsettia to bloom again is difficult. The plant needs a very controlled environment in order to set flowers. One of the key elements for re-blooming is complete darkness for 12 to 16 hours a day starting in late September or early October. Any deviation from this can alter the setting of flowers on the plants. Some people set the plant in a dark closet each night to make sure it does not get any artificial light from within the room or outside the windows.

Once the color bracts start to form and the flowers have set (usually by mid-November if you have done it correctly) you can move them out into a bright location to enjoy for another season.

One thing to remember with the re-blooming poinsettia is that the flowers will be half the size of the original flowers when bought but more numerous.


One of the most common misconceptions of the poinsettia plant is that it is poisonous to people or pets. Scientists have repeatedly proven this incorrect. A 50-pound child would have to consume more than 500 poinsettia bracts to have any ill effects, and the resulting symptoms would be akin to an allergy or irritation.

Similarly, a pet that eats poinsettia leaves will probably have an upset stomach and vomit them back up, but will suffer no other toxic effects.

Rather than being poisonous, the poinsettia is actually one of the most helpful houseplants in removing pollutants from the air

The colored "
bracts" that most people consider to be poinsettia flowers are actually leaves. The flowers are the tiny yellowish green buttons at the center of each set of bracts.



Poinsettia Decoration Set
Poinsettia Decoration Set

Sources: University of Missouri Extension


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