The poinsettia has been a symbol of Christmas for hundreds of years. Originating in Mexico it was named after the American botanist Dr. J.R. Poinsett who bought it to America. Dr Poinsett started growing them in his hothouse and selling them all over the world. It was not until the 1920’s that they started growing them in the pots like we see them now.
The Mexican legend that goes with the plant tells the story of Pablo and Maria, two small children who loved the Christmas celebrations at the village church. But being very poor they did not have the money to buy the gift that was customary to leave at the altar after the festivities. On their way to the church and feeling very sad at not having a gift to leave they were visited by an angel who instructed them to take the weeds they saw growing on the side of the road. This they did and when they got to the church they laid them on the hay near the manger. The rest of the church goers started to laugh, poor Pablo and Maria were very embarrassed but bravely stayed where they were. Slowly the weeds started to blossom into the beautiful flowers we know and love today.
Poinsettias are tropical plants so like sunlight but not fluctuations of temperature. Keep your poinsettia’s near a sunlit window during the holidays, this will protect it from the elements. The actual poinsettia flowers are very small and are within the leaves. The colour that gives us so much pleasure is actually their leaves turning either red pink or white. While blooming you need to keep the soil moist – but definitely not soggy!
Once the leaves start to droop the poinsettia is entering its dormant phase. Trim it back to the stems but leaving a couple of ‘eye’s’ and place it somewhere sheltered to protect from the coming frost. Once spring hits, give your poinsettia a very deep watering and place it in the sun. You can at this stage plant it in the ground, this will ensure years more of enjoyment. Once midsummer hits cut some stems with 4 or more buds showing and plant these into containers for the next Christmas.
Even the most humble gift if given with love is acceptable. If treated with love and care, these beautiful flowers will bring light and love into your household too, this Christmas.
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