Poisettia - The meaning of flowers
Poinsettias are native to Mexico, where the Aztecs used them in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries both for medicinal purposes and for making dye.
Poinsettias are 'short day plants', meaning they flower when there are less than 12 hours' daylight, to ensure the minimum of competitors of pollinating insects.
The coloured red leaves are not petals. They surround the base of the tiny flower heads and are designed to attract insects that might otherwise overlook the flowers.
Why is the Poinsettia plant connected with Christmas?
The Christmas connection to poinsettias comes from a Mexican legend which tells of a poor girl who dreams of bringing a beautiful gift to favour the Virgin Mary for a Christmas Eve service, yet has nothing worthy.
On the way to Church, she meets an angel who tells her to pick some weeds. She kneels by the roadside and, despite her protests that they are far from desirable, gathers a handful of common weeds. and makes her way to a small chapel where she places her offering on the altar.
The moment she does, they burst into blooms of brilliant red poinsettias and her sorrow turns to joy. The Mexicans renamed it 'Flor de Nochebuena' (Christmas Eve Flower).
Did you know?
Poinsettia Day is today, December 12th. It was declared in honour of the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett, whom the plant is named after.
The Do's and Don'ts of Poinsettia Care
* DO place your plant in indirect sunlight for at least six hours per day. If direct sun can't be avoided, diffuse the light with a shade or sheer curtain.
* DO provide room temperatures between 68 - 70° F. Generally speaking, if you are comfortable, so is your poinsettia.
* DO water your plant when the soil feels dry to the touch.
* DO use a large, roomy shopping bag to protect your plant when transporting it.
* DO fertilize your plant AFTER THE BLOOMING SEASON with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer.
* DON'T place plants near cold drafts or excessive heat. Avoid placing plants near appliances, fireplaces or ventilating ducts.
* DON'T expose plants to temperatures below 50° F. Poinsettias are sensitive to cold, so avoid placing them outside during the winter months.
* DON'T overwater your plant, or allow it to sit in standing water. Always remove a plant from any decorative container before watering, and allow the water to drain completely.
* DON'T expose your plant to chilling winds when transporting it.
* DON'T fertilize your plant when it is in bloom.