All About Poinsettias - The Christmas Plant

The Poinsettia Plant Story

Once upon a time, there was a poor Mexican girl named Pepita, who had nothing to offer to Jesus on Christmas eve, so she picked a handful of weeds from the roadside and made a small bouquet to offer. As she walked near the nativity scene, the weed bouquet turned into the red poinsettia’s flowers, and everyone who was there got amazed and called it a miracle. From that day onwards, bright red poinsettias are known as “Flowers of the Holy Night”. The red flowers bloom during the Christmas season in short days and long nights of winter, mostly during December-January.

About the plant

Poinsettias are known as Flame-leaf flower and lobster flower. The scientific name of the plant is Euphorbia pulcherrima and it is originated from Mexico. It is a popular houseplant and the red coloured flowers are actually modified leaves known as bracts.

Care tips

  • Light:
  1. Bright indirect filtered sunlight. 
  2. From October onwards, keep the plant in the indirect sunlight during the day, but always transfer them into a dark place at 5:00 pm for 12-14 hours. Make sure the plant gets a proper dark period for 6 - 8 weeks, as it’s a major step for colour development.
  3. Protect the plant from the cold harsh environment.
  • Water: Water the plant when the top layer of soil feels dry to touch.
  • Humidity: Mist the plant regularly for extending the flowering time.
  • Pruning: Prune back the plants in April month to about 10 cm and keep them in cool indirect light conditions.
  • Fertilizers: Feed monthly with organic fertilizers.

Common problems

Shrivelling of poinsettia leaves can be due to under-watering, overwatering, extremely cold conditions, and change in the location of the plants. In all the cases, timely care revives the plant.

Flowering time: December to January

Method of propagation

Poinsettias are commonly propagated by Softwood cuttings.

  • Take cuttings in early summer. Make a sharp clean cut about three to four inches in length when new growth begins. After taking cuttings, remove the lower leaves, keep only 2- 3 upper leaves. Make sure to wear gloves, as the milky latex that will exudate from the stem can irritate your skin.
  • Dip a one-inch portion of cuttings in the rooting hormone, insert the cuttings in a well-drained potting mixture and keep the pot in bright indirect sunlight in a warm space. Cover it with the transparent plastic bags to increase humidity.
  • Keep the soil moist for proper growth.
  • From October onwards, start giving dark periods for colour development explained in care tips.

Interesting facts about Poinsettias!

  • Poinsettias are named after a botanist, Joel Robert Poinsett.
  • The USA celebrates December 12th as National Poinsettia Day in remembrance of Joel Poinsett who died on the same date in 1851.
  • Poinsettias are the ‘National Emblem of Madagascar’.

Happy growing,
Shalini Sharma & Shashi Agarwal

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published