The Euphorbia pulcherrima, commonly known as Poinsettia, is the native plant of Mesoamerica and it has become a classic part of Christmas decorations. It’s red color is unmistakeably associated with this holiday. Whilst sharing the table with our friends and family during Christmas, it is normal to find a Poinsettia in the middle of the table. The contrast of its intense red color against its green leaves is very warm and decorative.
The plant originally comes from Mexico. It come specifically from a Southern area of the country known as Taxco de Alarcón. The Aztecs had used it as an offering to their Gods, as a medicinal plant to treat fevers, and also always kept a part to use as natural dye.
In the Sixteenth century the Franciscans that evangelized in the area used it as floral decoration during the Christmas period, seeing as it was around this time that the plant flowered, and acquired a decorative and eye-catching reddish tone.
However, the plant owes its name and fame to an American diplomat, politician and botanist: Joel Roberts Poinsett. Poinsett was sent to Mexico at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century to be ambassador, and he discovered the plant by accident during one of his journeys around the area of Taxco. He fell so in love with the vivid plant that he decided to gather a few cuttings in order to try and cultivate it in his own greenhouses in California. It was there that he dedicated a lot of time to studying, and where, in the following Christmas holidays, he acquired the custom of giving the plant away as a present. It was during this particular period that the plant bloomed and was found to be in its maximum splendor. In this way the plant gained popularity and, little by little, became a flower that was present in many American homes at Christmas time. Consequently, Poinsett managed to immortalize his name.
Unfortunately, in Spain we don’t have a huge culture for flowers and plants, but there are certain dates in which flowers find their place in our houses, Christmas being one of these times, also All Soul’s day, Saint Valentine’s Day, and Father and Mother’s Day.
Poinsettia is a very seasonal flower, as a result it is rare to find it in garden centres and florists during other dates.
Some pieces of advice that I can give you for taking care of and keeping the flowers for a longer period of time, so that the Poinsettia can accompany you even after Christmas is long gone, are:
- Buy Poinsettias that have been grown in our country, seeing as the conditions will be similar and they will be more resistant.
- Keep them as far away as possible from draughty, air conditioned or heated areas.
- The best place for them is close to a window with plenty of light.
- When watering them, do not do it directly and do not wet the leaves. Place the water under the pot in a plate or dish and leave it for 10 minutes, so that the plant can absorb all the water it needs. It is a plant that won’t endure standing in puddles of water.
- The amount of watering must be increased during the summer.
Did you know that Poinsettia has an entire day set aside for it? By an American Act of Congress, December 12th was declared the National Day of the Poinsettia. The date marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett.
The objective of this day is to enjoy this plant’s beauty. Consequently, make sure that you present this flower to a loved one during this Christmas period.
What meaning does Poinsettia hold for you?
Have you ever planted one?
Article written by Pilar Tejela Alonso, landscaper from the Espacios Vivos. (Living Spaces) Studio.
Many thanks for collaborating this month with our Vintage Blogguer section in “Vintage By López-Linares”.
Images>: @María Vintage Photography