Poinsettias are to Christmas in North America what Easter Lillies are to spring. This glorious red and green plant decorates dining tables and hearths, and will be even more welcome this year as holiday celebrations are kept intimate. Called “lobster” flowers and “flame-leaf” flowers, the showy red fronds are actually coloured bracts (modified leaves). And you’ll find them in more than 100 varieties including pink, white, salmon and speckles. In Mexico and Central America, the plant is a perennial shrub that can grow as tall as 15 feet.
Botanist and physician Joel Roberts Poinsett discovered the plant in Mexico. As the first US Ambassador to Mexico, he brought the plant home to Charleston. December 12 is official Poinsettia Day to mark his death in 1851.
Are poinsettias poisonous?
No but keep them away from curious small children and pets who may chew the leaves and experience skin irritation or nausea.
How can I bring out the full colour of my poinsettia?
Place it in a dark space overnight until early to mid-December. When the leaves have turned full colour, let the plant flourish in a bright sunny spot.