Poinsettia Plant Information
Poinsettias were first introduced to the United States in 1825 by Joel Robert Poinsett, amateur botanist and first ambassador to Mexico. He introduced the plant to the United States when he brought some cuttings to his plantation in Greenwood, South Carolina.
Poinsettias are native to Mexico , especially in the area of southern Mexico, known as ‘Taxco del Alarcon, where they grow wild and flower in the winter. The ancient Aztecs called them ‘cuetlaxochitl’. They had many uses for poinsettias, using the beautiful red bracts to make purple dye for clothes and cosmetics. The milky white sap was made into medicine to treat fevers.
The popular legend of the poinsettia dates back several centuries, to a Christmas Eve in Mexico when a little girl named Pepita had no gift to present to the Christ child. Her cousin Pedro urged her to give a humble gift. So, on her way to church she gathered some weeds she found along the road. As she approached the altar, a miracle happened: The weeds blossomed into brilliant flowers. Then they were called Flores de Noche Buena – Flowers of the Holy Night. Now they are called poinsettias.
Poinsettias are one of the longest-lasting blooming plants available to consumers.
To keep the Poinsettia blooming: When surface soil is dry to the touch, water thoroughly. Discard excess water in the saucer. To prolong color, keep a temperature range of 60 degrees for night and 72 degrees for day. High humidity is preferable. Place plant away from hot or cold drafts, and protect from cold winds.
To re-bloom for the next season: For the following winter, continue to follow holiday upkeep tips.
- March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day): When bracts fade, cut stems back to eight inches above soil line.
- Continue to water regularly.
- Lightly fertilize with a good, balanced all-purpose fertilizer every three to four weeks.
- When temperatures are warm, place plant outdoors; first in indirect, then direct sunlight. Avoid temperatures below 50 degrees throughout the summer.
- July 4 (Independence Day): Cut back new growth stems. Repot if needed.
- Early September (Labor Day): Move plant inside. Provide six or more hours of direct light.
- October 1 through mid-December: Confine plant to complete darkness for 14 hours, giving it 10 hours of natural light daily. This will set the buds and cause bracts to color.