It's December 12th, and that means it's National Poinsettia Day! The poinsettia is one of the few flowers of North America that can claim its own day thanks to Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. It is Roberts who is credited for bringing this beautiful traditional Christmas gift to our land. And it all happened like this: Ambassador Poinsett was on a diplomatic mission to Taxco, Mexico. The year was 1828. Admiring the tropical environment, he became entranced with the plant’s beauty, its medicinal uses, and its artistic applications by the natives of the region. So enamored was the ambassador that it was one of the first things he brought back to the United States.
The plant proved to have a major impact on not only Christmas in the USA, but agriculture, for many years to come. Because of its important role in the celebration of Christmas and its beautification to America, Congress set December 12th each year as National Poinsettia Day. The good Ambassador would be amazed at what started as simple cuttings from Mexico have become. According to USDA, poinsettias are the number one potted plant grown in the nation! Here’s a few of our favorite poinsettia varieties:
Winter Rose - similar to the traditional red poinsettia but with a twist. This unique variety has puckered, down curling leaves and bracts that resembles a large, open rose. Perfect for the traditionalist who likes an edgy touch.
Picasso - speckled with tiny dots of red and white resembling tiny brushstrokes on the leaves. If you’re looking for something outside the box this season, then Picasso is the one for you.
Ice Punch - a nice mixture of pink-red with a pale pink in the center. This variety features brats that are pointier than most. Ice Punch works well as a statement piece on its own or several grouped together.
Red Glitter - features red bracts covered in white speckles and splashes. For those who are looking for something fun and but classic at the same time.
Traditional Red - you can't go wrong with this showy holiday favorite. Nothing conveys the joy and spirit of the season like this Christmas classic.
Poinsettias are easy to keep beautiful and blooming throughout the holidays and beyond as long as you follow a few simple tips:
- Avoid exposing the poinsettia to freezing conditions. Do not leave it in the car while you finish shopping. Take it home and place it inside the house as soon as possible after purchasing it.
- Place your poinsettia in a spot with bright natural light, but do not expose it to direct sunlight.
- Do not place your poinsettia in an area where it will be exposed to drafts, heat from appliances, radiators, or ventilation ducts.
- The color of your poinsettia will last longer with temperatures around 65 degrees F during the day and 60-65 degrees F at night.
- The soil should be kept moderately moist; check every few days and water when the soil feels dry to the touch. Before watering, remove the pot covers or foil wrapping; water to saturate the soil, and then allow the pot to drain. Do not let the plant sit in standing water.