The glorious poinsettia is a winter favorite. It’s as synonymous with the season as boughs of holly, as cheerful as an uplifting holiday carol, and as colorful as the twinkling lights on the tree. It’s no wonder so many incorporate it into their seasonal decorations at the first sign of December.
The poinsettia is a true classic. Native to Mexico, this distinctive plant can grow up to 16 feet in height. When first discovered by missionaries in the country, the poinsettia was immediately adopted as a ceremonial plant. Before long, everyone included the lively poinsettia, known there as Flor de Nochebuena, in their holiday festivities. It grew in abundance, provided intense color, and was easy to procure.
Its popularity in the United States is attributed to physician Joel Roberts Poinsett, who served as the first Minister to Mexico for the country. During a visit, he discovered the plant growing in all its glory in Mexico City. Dabbling in botany, Poinsett was delighted by his find. He shared his discovery in America, and before long, the poinsettia was a staple in the country. The name, naturally, stuck.
Those humble roots couldn’t have alluded to what the future held for the vibrant plant. Today, the poinsettia is instantly recognizable for its rich, intensely green foliage. It’s thick and dense, with a textured appearance that provides robust support for the canopy of crimson, heart-shaped leaves above. The effect is both bold and uplifting at once.
Contributing to the plant’s beauty is its symbolism. Not only is it the birth flower of December, but it’s also representative of success, joy, celebration, good wishes, cheer, and happiness. A flower with such a radiant personality is a natural fit for any holiday decoration. It offers a vibrant finishing touch for a tablescape, instantly livens up an entryway, and infuses any space with a sense of festivity.
During the busy holiday season, spending an inordinate time on plant care is very nearly out of the question. Fortunately, the vibrant poinsettia doesn’t require too much attention. At a bare minimum, the plant should receive at least six hours of bright indirect light each day.
The poinsettia tends to thrive in moderate temperatures that aren’t too humid. Avoid anything lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit; if possible, aim for around 65 degrees during the day and around 75 at night. Avoid temperature extremes of any kind, as intense chills or heat could cause leaves to wilt and suffer discoloration.
As for its moisture needs, the key is to assess the soil carefully before watering. If it feels dry, that’s a positive indication that it’s time to add water. However, be mindful of your application process. Too much moisture can lead to root rot, so aim to wet the soil without oversaturating. Water should be of room temperature and should ideally drain from the bottom of the container. That will prevent premature wilting and damage.
A little bit of TLC is all this popular winter plant needs to look its best. Whether it plays a starring role in your centerpiece or serves as a colorful holiday accent in the home, it promises to thrive and remain in beautiful condition throughout the season.