With December now in full swing, we’ve certainly gone full tilt with decking our halls with holiday spirit. From the lights to the wreaths to the trees, our houses are brimming with Christmas decor, but it wouldn’t be complete without one final touch: a poinsettia. With unmistakable red and green foliage, they’re simply made for it!
Despite the false rumors of their poisonous nature, poinsettias are still a classic holiday tradition beloved across the world.
The Myth of the Poinsettia
Once upon a time in Mexico, where our floral favorite makes its native home, a young girl was making her way to church for Christmas Day. When she arrived, she noticed that everyone had brought extravagant gifts to lay at the altar, but she had not. You see, she was penniless and seeing the bounty the other churchgoers had brought that she could not afford to offer, she wept in shame.
Another little girl saw the poor, crying one and rushed to console her. She explained that Jesus didn’t care how expensive a gift was. All he really cared about was that it was given with love.
Hopeful at the other girl’s words, the poor girl rushed to find some offering she could bring to the altar at the church. However, the only thing she found was a patch of green weeds. Still wanting to offer even so little, the girl gently picked the weeds into a bouquet and brought them to the church. The people in the church laughed at her meager offering, but she stayed her course and laid them down amongst the elaborate bounty. What happened next was a miracle.
The humble, green weeds burst into life with vibrant, red flowers as the church watched in awe! The poor girl had been blessed for her small gift of love and every Christmas from then on, the poinsettias – or better known in Mexico as the ‘Flores de Noche Buena’ (Flower of the Holy Night) – bloom alongside every road in honor of this gift.
Caring for Your Poinsettia
The story of the little girl’s Christmas miracle may only be a myth (much like the story that they are poisonous), but it did spark the fascination that made them such a staple during the holiday season. To bring your own miracle plant home for the holidays, you’ll need to follow these simple steps:
Give them full, indirect sun. They come from the sunny Caribbean, so they definitely catch plenty of rays. No one likes a sunburn, though, so make sure they’ve got some coverage.
Keep them away from drafty windows. Poinsettias prefer a nice, temperate climate of about 60-70℉ and even a slightly chilled breeze can throw them off.
Keep them away from air vents, which can dry them out much faster. Keep them where they’ll get lots of air circulation, but won’t be the center of attention for the air flow.
Don’t overwater. One of the best things about caring for a poinsettia is that it hardly needs any, so we can stay focused on all the many, many other things we need to do at this time of year! Keep watering to an occasional activity only when the soil gets dry.
Picking the Perfect Poinsettia
For a poin that will set ya up for success, you’ll want to follow these tips and tricks for making the perfect selection:
Look for vibrant, rich color and lush foliage. A healthy and thriving plant is always a positive sign. Plants with discolored leaves? Make a point of leaving them behind.
When selecting a plant that hasn’t flowered yet, look for plenty of buds. If there’s not much to see yet, look for signs that there will be in the weeks to come.
If you’re going for fully formed blooms, look for yellow centers. Eyes that are still as bright as the star on the top of your tree mean they only recently bloomed, so they will last longer.
The same applies in reverse. If the blooms have dark centers, they are older and will lose their color soon. So unless you’re grabbing yours on a last-minute Christmas shopping trip, it may be best to leave them be.
Despite the false rumors of their poisonous nature, poinsettias are still a classic holiday tradition beloved across the world. Not only beautiful and festive, they’re also easy to take care of, so you can worry less about keeping your decor alive, and more about keeping the Christmas spirit alive, instead!