About Poinsettia

Poinsettia Flowers

Genus

Euphorbia

Species

The Genus Euphorbia has 24 different species, but Poinsettia is the most popular for its commercial importance during the winter holiday. Around 70 million Poinsettias are sold in six weeks around Christmas time.

History

The history of Poinsettias is very well known. It is native to the Americas and was identified as a new species in the 1800s by Johann Friedrich — who traced the plant’s holotype to its Mexican origins. Before it became widely known as Poinsettia, many referred to it as "painted flower" or the "Mexican flame".

Although identified by Johann Friedrich, the plant received its name ‘Poinsettia’ from a botanist called Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was also the first United States minister to Mexico. He brought the Poinsettia to the United States with the aim of studying and cultivating it in his greenhouse.

Poinsettia Flowers

Appearance

Poinsettia is a shrub that measures up to a height of 0.5 meters to 4 meters tall. It has dark green leaves or bracts, which change to a red colour as the winter approaches. They also come in white, pink, pale green, and orange colours.

It’s also worth noting that unlike many flowers with separate leaves and petals, the Poinsettias’ leaves make up the colourful part of the plant, which many mistake for petals at a glance. They also have tiny flowers closely packed in the middle of groups of leaves, which may be responsible for pollination.

Growth & Maintenance

These plants are special as you can grow them at any time of the year. More so, they naturally initiate their blooming.

You can grow Poinsettias indoors at a temperature of 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you'll do well to ensure the temperature doesn't drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, as Poinsettia can die when it’s too cold. Furthermore, the best position for Poinsettias is to plant them in a pot where they can have access to sunlight from a window.

As for maintenance, it is very straightforward. Just make sure the soil remains moist; otherwise, the plant will wilt. You'll also do well to avoid excess water, so allow your plant to grow in a pot that drains freely. Too much water will cause the roots to rot.

To keep Poinsettias healthy, apply fertilizers when new leaves start to emerge. During the first stages of your plant’s growth, you'll need to transfer it into a bigger pot to accommodate longer roots and support the stems. When transferring pots, apply organic matter into the new pot to help maintain moisture and promote growth.

One very common question people ask is how to make their Poinsettia rebloom. In other words, ‘how do you ensure they change colour from green in time for the holiday?’ It's pretty simple but requires a little routine.

During the growth period, you'll need to block light partially. Once the plant doesn't have access to sunlight, its green-coloured pigment, chlorophyll, will stop generating. This practice will cause the leaves to revert to the Poinsettia variety colour, which may be pink, red, white, etc.

Read more from the Our Guide To Spotting Flowers series

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By Miles Warner 21 September 2020