Poinsettia (570x380)-textWhat do you think of when you see a Poinsettia plant? Christmas, of course! Did you know that 85% of all potted plants sold during the holiday season are Poinsettias? Euphorbia pulcherrima is native to Mexico and is a shrub or small tree typically reaching heights of 10 feet or more. They were introduced into the United States in 1825 by Joel R. Poinsett (the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico) who discovered the plant while wandering the countryside of Mexico in search of new plant species. He took cuttings from the plant and grew them from his greenhouse in South Carolina. The Botanical name of the Poinsettia is Euphorbia pulcherrima, but William Prescott, a historian and horticulturist, renamed it “Poinsettia” in honor of Joel Poinsett.

Although the plant is a perennial in its natural habitat, outside its natural environment, it is commonly grown as an indoor plant. Laypeople often think the colored part of the Poinsettia is the flower, but in all actuality they are colored leaves (or bracts). The flowers of the plant are the yellow clusters (cyathia) found in the center of the bracts. How do you know if you purchased a fresh Poinsettia? If there is little or no yellow pollen showing on the flower clusters, then it is fresh. When the pollen sheds, the plant will soon begin dropping its colorful leaves.

The plant is cold sensitive and exposure to low temperatures can damage the bracts and leaves. Place it in indirect sunlight away from contact with cold windows. To keep the plant in bloom, the ideal daytime temperature is 60-70 F and at night, around 55 F. High temperatures will shorten the plant’s life.

Water only when the surface is dry to the touch. Punch holes in the container’s foil so water can drain into a saucer (do not leave the plant standing in water). Fertilize the plant only if you keep it past the holiday season by applying fertilizer monthly. Do not fertilize when it is in bloom. Here is a recommended chart for watering your plant:

Pot Diameter | Fluid Ounces of Water Per Pot:
4 inches | 6 ounces
5 inches | 9 ounces
6 inches |12 ounces
7 inches | 16 ounces
8 inches | 20 ounces

Category: Tropical / Tender Perennial
Height: 12-24 inches (45-60 cm)
Spacing: 24-36 inches (60-90 cm)
Hardiness: USDA Zone 9-11
Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Bloom Color: Red, lemon, pink, white, orange, cream, or marbled
Bloom Time: Late fall to mid winter
Propagation: From herbaceous stem cuttings
Seed Collecting: Does not seed

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About Jen

Jen is owner, author, and creative mind behind Bakerette. Jen eats a vegan diet and recently converted Bakerette to a plant-based website that offers a smattering of healthful recipes! Jen is author of the cookbook Festive Feasts: Meals and Memories from Halloween to Christmas, which can be purchased online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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