The story of the Poinsettia – Flowers of the Holy Night

Fri. Dec. 11, 2020

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: The story of the Poinsettia – Flowers of the Holy Night

Tomorrow, Dec. 12th, is designated National Poinsettia Day.

Poinsettia ‘Red Glitter’ by Gertens

The Poinsettia is a native of Mexico, where it grows like a weed and can reach 10 feet tall.  Mexican legend holds that the leaves, shaped like the star of Bethlehem, first bloomed red for a poor girl who wanted to bring a gift to the manger scene at the local church but had no money.  Her cousin, who walked to the church with her, said “even the most humble gift, if given in love, would be acceptable to Jesus”.  So the girl picked the weed and when she laid it at the altar it turned a beautiful bright red.  And so the red flowers were called ‘Flowers of the Holy Night”. Technically they’re not flowers but what’s called bracts or modified leaves.  

Poinsettia trees in Mexico
Poinsettia ‘Antique Red’ by Gertens

How to select and care for your poinsettia

  • Choose a good looking specimen
  • Nice dark green leaves throughout, no yellowing or wilting leaves.
  • Turn the plant around to see that it’s full all the way around.

Once you make your choice, make sure it’s wrapped well before taking it outside.  Most local nurseries will take care of that for you! Poinsettias don’t like real cold temps, after all, they’re a native of Mexico.

Poinsettia ‘Green Envy’ by Gertens

Once home…

Poinsettia ‘Queen Pink Princettia’ by Gertens
  • Unwrap your Poinsettia
  • Make sure there are drain holes in the foil it’s in.  It’s important not to let water sit at the plants roots, they’ll rot.
  • Place your poinsettia on a tray of some sort.
  • Place your poinsettia in indirect light.  (They need about 6 hours worth).  Out of cold or warm drafts.
  • Water when the top is dry to your second knuckle and water till it drains out of the bottom, then empty the saucer/tray.

Gertens Greenhouse grows all their own poinsettias!

Poinsettia ‘Marble’ by Gertens