December 12th is National Poinsettia Day!

Posted by on Dec 12, 2013 in My Blog | Leave a comment

It’s only right that the official flower of Christmas should have its very own day.   Because everywhere you look it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and Poinsettias have a lot to do with that.

If you think about it, they are very mysterious.  You don’t see them growing by the side of the road.  You don’t see them in gardens or in arrangements at the florists.  You rarely come across them as houseplants.  Then, at Christmas, they are everywhere – the grocery store, Costco, Home Depot.  This year, I got mine at Target for $3.99.

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Where do all these Pontsettias come from?

If you, like me, have been kept up night after night, pondering the magical appearance of Poinsettias every Christmas  … Well, maybe you haven’t been wide-eyed at 2:00 a.m. thinking about Poinsettias, but I’m sure someone has because it’s a $250 million industry that is crammed into a really tiny portion of the year.  I don’t know what could go wrong, but surely someone knows a heck of a lot about Poinsettias and is managing things so they go right.

Here’s a video that’s a couple of years old now, but it shows the Ecke Ranch in California as it gears up its Pointsetta production for Christmas.

It’s Big Business.

About 70% of Poinsettias in North America are provided by the Ecke Ranch, which was a family business until recently.  After 100 years of being the primary producer of Poinsettias, they sold to a large European company because they could no longer compete with big growers whose customers were Costco, etc.  (Now, I feel a little bit guilty about my $3.99 Target purchase.)

It’s the official flower of Christmas.

Their red and green colours make them a natural fit for Christmas, though their red ‘petals’ are not actually flowers, but ‘bracts’s or leaves.  Nonetheless, their vibrant colours make them popular at this time of year.  Once only available in red, there are no over 100 varieties of Poinsettias available and they come in a wide variety of colours.

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It’s a girl thing.

Poinsettias are the best-selling potted plant in United States and Canada.  Around 80% of Poinsettias purchased are by women, so it makes sense that I get my love of Poinsettias from my Mom.  She always has Poinsettias in the house at Christmas, and it’s a tradition that I have in my own home.   (Yes, that’s my house and Poinsettia display below … Kidding!  It’s a photo of the conservatory at Longwood Gardens, who by the way does a fabulous Christmas display, if you’re in the Philadelphia area.)

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Impress your family at Christmas dinner with your knowledge of Poinsettia history.

December 12th is the big day because it marks the death of the Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, who first brought Poinsettias from Mexico to the U.S. in 1828.  John Bartram, a nurseryman from Pennsylvania was the first to sell Poinsettias, but it wasn’t until the early 1900s when the Ecke family got involved, that they really started to take off.  In fact, the Ecke family and its marketing savvy was responsible for creating the entire Poinsettia industry.  

Buying and Care Tips:

  • Try to avoid buying plants that are displayed in sleeves or in a really crowded manner.  These plants don’t last as long.
  • They do best when your home is between 60F/16C and 70F/20C.
  • Water only when the soil is dry.  Punch a hole in the foil and let it drain through to a saucer, but don’t let the saucer sit full of water.  Water it before it wilts!
  • Poinsettias are not poisonous. Many studies have been done over the years to confirm their non-poisonous status.  That said, it’s always safer to keep kids and pets away from house plants.

For more tips, ask a Master Gardener.

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Beauty Trumps Everything.

It’s botanical name Eurphorbia pulcherrima is a clue.  It means ‘very beautiful’.  When they named them, they got that part right.  These unique plants provide a festive splash of red that adds colour to any room.  No flower says Christmas as much as a festive Poinsettia.

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