Poinsettias: Fact and Fiction
What would the Christmas season be without poinsettias? These gorgeous plants are available in an eye-popping assortment of colors, styles, and sizes that will add holiday spirit to every room in your home.
Poinsettias are a snap to grow, too. Just place them in a sunny room and water whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. Just remember to keep them away from heat ducts or drafty windows and doors. Come spring, you can move the plants outdoors after frost danger or use them in the landscape in frost-free regions. Or, just toss them on the compost pile and buy news ones every year.
If you love poinsettias as much as I do, here are some key facts and myths about these holiday favorites:
FACT 1: Even the Aztecs loved poinsettias!
Native to Central America and southern Mexico, poinsettias were first called Cuetlaxochitl by the ancient Aztecs. They used the colorful flower bracts to produce dye for clothes and the milky sap as a medicine to treat fevers.
FACT 2: Poinsettias are named after the first Ambassador to Mexico.
Joel Roberts Poinsett (after whom the plants got their common name poinsettia) the first Ambassador from the USA to Mexico “discovered” these red-flowering beauties in 1828 and shipped a few to his greenhouse in South Carolina.
FACT 3: Poinsettias were popular cut flowers.
The first flowering specimens were displayed at the Philadelphia Flower Show where they became so popular the cut flowers were sold commercially.
FACT 4: Poinsettias can be used indoors and out.
By the early 1900s poinsettias were finally marketed for indoor and outdoor use.
FICTION 1: Poinsettias are poisonous.
FALSE! Many people still think poinsettias are poisonous. This is not true. You would have to eat about 500 leaves to get sick, although eating a leaf or two might make you have an achy stomach. Pets are safe with these plants, too. If your kitty nibbles on a few leaves, there’s no need to panic. Your pet might throw up, but will not be harmed.
FICTION 2: Poinsettia has big flowers.
FALSE! The colorful flowers of poinsettia are not actually flowers. What most people consider flowers are actually the colorful bracts that surround the small, yellow, button-like blooms.
Learn more about this sizes and colors of this gorgeous classic.