Feature Flower Poinsettia - from Garden of Eden Flower Shop
Posted on November 30 2020
December’s first birth flower is the Narcissus, but since we covered the daffodil family in our March blog, we’ll focus on the second December birth flower – everyone’s favorite holiday not-really-a-flower, the Poinsettia. These flowers are typically associated with Christmas. While considered by the ancient Aztecs to be symbols of purity, in today's language of flowers, red, white or pink Poinsettias symbolize good cheer and success and are said to bring wishes of mirth and celebration.
Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico and amateur botanist, introduced the Poinsettia to the United States in 1928. The bright red, pink, or white colors of the Poinsettia, which are perceived as the petals of the flower, are really leaves called bracts. The actual flowers are small, yellow clusters of balls in between those brilliant bracts. This plant is sold in pots during the holiday season, yet with special attention, the Poinsettia can grow to enormous sizes. This plant is known as a short day plant because it grows best when the nights are long and the days are short. It was once thought that the Poinsettia is a poisonous threat to pets and small children. There is no evidence that the Poinsettia is a hazard. However, eating large amounts of the plant will cause upset in the digestive system.
A story passed down through the centuries illustrates how the Poinsettia became a part of Christmas tradition. Gifts used to be left at the altar for Jesus on Christmas Eve. Yet, one Christmas Eve, a poor boy had no gift for Jesus. He knelt at the altar to pray and when he left, a Poinsettia bloomed where he knelt. This is how the Poinsettia became known as Fleur de Bueno Noche in Mexico, or the Flower of the Holy Night. This flower is also referred to as the Nativity Flower because the altar is often decorated in Poinsettias during the holiday season.
As a birth flower, the Poinsettia represents the traits that December born people supposedly display: generosity, humor, and cheerfulness.
Today, Poinsettias are bred in colors unimaginable, such as apricot, burgundy, blush, peach, and bicolor – even a “spattered” burgundy/pink called “Jingle Bell”, which is proving to be one of the most popular! There is also a miniature version, perfect for desktops (that we also sell here at The Garden of Eden!), and a tightly-flowered breed called “Christmas Rose” that looks like a ruffly garden rose. The Poinsettia can also take florists’ spray dye quite well, and can be tinted/glittered to match the space it will be displayed in. Poinsettias should only be used as a cut flower by florists; there is a routine we florists have to follow before the stems go in water, as the white milky sap the cut stem and leaves exude can “poison” other flowers in the vase. Regardless, Poinsettias are best simply displayed in a nice container as the plant they are!
Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and Happy Birthday, December babies!