Friday, December 12, 2008

Today is National Poinsettia Day.

"Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas. "
~Johnny Carson

"He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree." ~Roy L. Smith

Originally from Mexico and Central America, Poinsettias are the most popular of flower plants during the Christmas season. They are the largest flowering plant crop in the U.S. with sales of over 63 million pots yearly. Many people buy them for their homes, even more are placed on graves and in Offices Churches and public buildings. Native to the warmer southwestern U.S. climates and Mexico, Poinsettias are very susceptible to cold and frost. So, when you bring them home in cold weather, make sure to bring them right home. Don't leave them in your car and go back to your Christmas shopping.

Poinsettias are named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first Ambassador to Mexico who brought the plant back to his plantation in the U.S. He grew the plants in his Greenville, S.C plantation and gave them out as gifts to friends. Poinsettia Day is always on December 12th. It was declared in honor of the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett on December 12, 1851.

Poinsettias are not poisonous as many believe. But eating them could give you a stomach ache.
A study at Ohio State University showed that a 50 pound child who ate 500 bracts might have a slight tummy ache. Poinsettia sap that can irritate the skin and cause an upset stomach if consumed in large enough quantities. I would assume that a person could be allergic to them, as with many other plants, they could them have a bad reaction to touching a poinsettia. For nearly eighty years the rumor of Poinsettias being poisonous has continued to circulate because of one unfounded story in 1919: that an Army officer’s two year old child allegedly died after eating a poinsettia leaf. While never proved by medical or scientific fact and later determined to be hearsay, the story has taken on a life of it’s own. But you do not have to fear that your children or pets could die from them.

Poinsettias are easy to keep. They will retain their blooms long after you have taken down the tree and put away the other Christmas decorations. If cared for properly, they will last until Valentines Day or even longer. After bringing them home, keep them in a sunny room.. Ideal temperature range is 60 - 70 degrees. They do not like drafts, And, they do not like being placed near high heat like a furnace vent or fireplace. Water thoroughly, then let the soil dry between watering. Poinsettias are forgiving and a tiny bit flexible. If they begin to dry out, and you see them wilting, water them and they bounce right back. If the leaves turn lighter green, give more sunshine and......they spring right back.

During the summer, you can move your plant outdoors to a sunny location. Plant it directly into the garden ground or into a container. Give it a good trimming, a nice rounded shape is very attractive. Apply general purpose fertilizer every two to three weeks. But be sure to bring the plant indoors before the first frost. Poinsettias can not withstand frost. Check carefully to be sure you did not bring in any unwanted "critters" with your plant.

Did you know that Poinsettias can grow up to 10 feet tall? But, to grow them this big you would need a few years in a tropical climate that does not experience frosts. I can't imagine a ten foot Poinsettia. I would love to see one though! I am told that there are ways to force a poinsettia to bloom. I myself have tried all the different ways and have never succeeded even with my green thumb. They all have to do with light and darkness and mostly with Luck. I think I was short on Luck!

The Aztecs called poinsettias "Cuetlaxochitl." During the 14th - 16th century the sap was used to control fevers and the bracts (modified leaves) were used to make a reddish dye.
Montezuma, the last of the Aztec kings, would have poinsettias brought into what now is Mexico City by caravans because poinsettias could not be grown in the high altitude.

In Mexican folklore, there is a story of a little poor girl who had nothing to bring to church for Christmas. As she sadly walked to church, she picked some weeds by the side of the road. As she entered the church, Her tears fell onto the plants and the ends of the leaves turned into bright, brilliant red flowers.... Flores de Noche Buena or Flowers of the Holy Night.. Poinsettias.

I Love Poinsettias. I don't often buy them, But I think they are beautiful. They can be found now in all ranges of colors from Deep crimson to pale white or even a lemony yellow. I prefer the red. These plants have become a symbol for The Christmas season. The purpose of the day is to enjoy the beauty of this popular holiday plant. So, be sure to give someone you love a poinsettia today December 12, National Poinsettia Day! Have a wonderful day!


Big Time said...

Hey Patsy,

I love Poinsettia's too. I think they are very pretty. I remember mama keeping one alive until the next Christmas one year by taking really good care of it. I bought one for myself this year. That is my Christmas decoration here at the lake. I love you! Reuben

clare_stjohns said...

Patsy, I wish I had a photo of Falfi's garden; you would be amazed as she had Poinsettia's that were huge and they grew year round. She also had Philadendrems (sp) that grew up the trees too. My favorite things were the paper bark trees that had bark like tissue paper and the Avacado trees. Growing up in Florida was so very much different that here, oh how I miss it at times.

Pblacksaw said...

Bigtime~ I haven't bought one this year. I have kept them alive too. Not easy but not too awful hard either.I love you!

clare-stjohns~ I bet you do miss the differences. I would have loved Falfi's garden I am sure. I once grew an avocado tree. I had it for about five years and it touched the ceiling in my house. One morning it was just dead. I might try that again.

Thanks to all who stop by to read my blog~ Feel free to comment!