I think of a beautiful display of a cluster of red leaves whenever I think of a poinsettia plant. And Christmas. Statistically, it is the number one potted plant sold in America, which means more poinsettias are sold than all other potted plants combined!
Several options for the origin of the plant include a young lady named Pepita. She was sad because she lacked a present for the Christ Child, so she gathered weeds as her gift. When she entered the church and gave the ragged cut weeds, they burst into beautiful red blooms. Another tale relates to Joel Roberts Poinsett who was the first Ambassador to Mexico; he was so enthralled by the brilliant crimson native Mexican plant that he brought some to his home state of South Carolina where he grew the poinsettia and shared the beautiful flowers with family and friends. Poinsett died on December 12 which would become National Poinsettia Day.
The poinsettia became cultivated by the Aztec and Mayan people; its name means “brilliant flower.” The plant’s age is measured in centuries and is a native of Mexico. The plant’s legends include the properties of good luck with the assumption that the flowers bring wealth and prosperity. They certainly brighten a home with wonderful colors.
Most people love the poinsettia plant whether it’s the traditional red or the other hues of white, peach, pink, and yellow, and more recently available in spotted, marbled, and striped. They appeal to many because it is a low-maintenance plant and therefore requires little time for care. Basically, they require adequate sunlight and simple watering. Their survival temperature range averages between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
The father of the poinsettia we know now traces back to Paul Ecke, Jr, of California. He discovered a grafting technique, encouraging the seedlings to branch. Today the plant contributes approximately $250 million each year to the American economy.
The plant is not toxic, but it should not be eaten by people and animals. But that’s the only downside! So, enjoy the holiday with a gathering of poinsettias!
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