The symbol of Christmas

Poinsettias have become the symbol of Christmas, evoking the holiday spirit.

Everywhere you look Poinsettias are decking the halls along with Christmas trees, and are one of the main images on Christmas cards.

Euphorbia pulcherrima is commonly called Poinsettia or Flower of the Holy Night.  It originated from Mexico where it was grown by the Aztecs of Central Mexico as a shrub, as well as being used by them to dye fabrics and control fever. This was many centuries before it was introduced to the United States by Joel Poinsett, an American Ambassador to Mexico in the 18th century, from which it derives its common name. It is now grown all over the world in large quantities for the Christmas market as a hybrid potted plant.  The USA and Holland are the largest growers and exporters.

20130630Garden (Peggy Chin)Poinsettias have velvety green leaves that are toothed.  The actual flowers are inconspicuous, being small and berry like.  They are clustered together like beads and are surrounded by leaf-like bracts.  It is these bracts which become bright red as the flowers mature and which give the plant its fame.

The colour of the Poinsettia bracts will last for approximately three months, given normal room temperature and good light.  Poinsettias are available in colours of red, dark red, pink, white and marble (which is a variegated cream with red) – marble being the most unusual and marvellous one.

Water the soil only and allow to dry out before watering again.

(To be continued)
Until next week, happy gardening!

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