Flower spotlight: poinsettias

Flower spotlight: poinsettias

Ancient Aztecs were the first to cultivate the flower we know as poinsettias. Used as an antipyretic medication (fever reducer) and to create red dyes, the Cuetlaxochitl (translated “flower that grows in residues or soil” or a variation of “mortal flower that perishes and withers like all that is pure”) was an important part of their culture.

Poinsettias were first introduced in the United States by botanist and U.S. Minister to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, in the 1820s. At the time, Poinsett started harvesting wild poinsettias (known then as painted leaf or Mexican flame flower) from their indigenous locations around Mexico and Central America and shipping them back to greenhouses in South Carolina. From there, they were displayed at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society by Colonel Robert Carr in 1829.

Known for their green and red foliage, the poinsettia shrub has become an iconic Christmas decoration. The small shrub’s connection to the Christian holiday dates back to 16th-century Mexico. The legend says that a poor young girl named Maria had no gift to give in celebration of Jesus’ birthday, so an angel told her to gather a handful of weeds and place them at the church alter. Deep crimson blooms grew out of those weeds and became poinsettias.

Additional references to the red of the leaf representing Christ’s blood shed on the cross and the star-shaped leaf pattern symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem solidified the poinsettia as a staple of the Christmas holiday.

About 70 million poinsettias are sold over a span of about six weeks each year in the United States, so there’s a solid possibility you have or will be gifted a poinsettia at some point. If the red and green shrub isn’t your favorite, you might consider other varieties. There are more than 100 cultivated poinsettia varieties to choose from in a wide variety of colors!

Your poinsettia can live in a pot long after the holidays and can even be transplanted outside. There are several different ways to care for it, depending on what you want the plant to do. Don’t be surprised if the leaves (called bracts) all grow back as green. Creating the bright colors can be a complicated process, but they are still quite lovely as green shrubs. Just be sure to fertilize and prune your little poinsettia tree. Also be sure to watch out for insects (mainly the white fly), remove any dropped leaves from the soil’s surface, and keep it in an area that provides bright sunlight for at least six hours a day.

Call or stop by our shop at Rockwell and Northwest Expressway in Oklahoma City to add some poinsettias to your Christmas décor.


lilygrass flowers and decor

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