Poinsettias are the most popular flower to see around Christmas time. The red color of the poinsettia flower is perfect for Christmas and is used in all kinds of decor around the house over the holidays. But do you know where the poinsettia comes from?
A flower from our neighbors
Although they’re all over the U.S. as decorations around the holiday season, the poinsettia plant actually has its roots in Central America. More specifically, they are native to the Aztecs of Mexico. In fact, the Aztecs had all kinds of uses for the poinsettia, from dying clothes to using the sap as medicine. The flower didn’t make its way north to the U.S. until the 1800s, when the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Robert Poinsett liked the flowers so much on a visit that he sent some back to the U.S.
A Christmas legend
The poinsettia flower is a popular one around Christmas because of the Mexican folk legend about it. The story is about two children from a poor family, Pablo and Maria, on Christmas Eve. According to the legend, the youngsters were on the way to church services that night and wanted to find a gift for Baby Jesus in the manger scene. Since they had no money, the two settled for picking some weeds they found on the side of the road on the way to church. As they placed the plants around the figurine, the green weeds turned into the bright red, star-shaped petals of the poinsettia. It’s because of this Christmas legend that the flowers are still used so frequently around the holiday season.
Although the most common kind of poinsettia is probably the red colored one, there are several varieties of the flower. In fact, you can find poinsettias in pink, white and peach colors, too. That said, the care for each type of poinsettia is the same. It’s relatively simple: Place your poinsettias in a bright room, but not anywhere that would leave them in direct sunlight. At night, move the poinsettias to a cooler place. Check the soil daily and add water if it’s dried out. Do your best to keep your plant away from a heater and air conditioning unit, as extreme temperature changes aren’t good for it. Poinsettias should stay healthy in your home for about six to eight weeks.