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Poinsettias: The Christmas Flower

Poinsettias: The Christmas Flower

poinsettiasAUBURN, Ala. – Poinsettias are the most recognizable flower associated with Christmas. It is no surprise that they are also know as the Christmas flower. Every year many people have them scattered around their home as decoration for the  holiday.

The Poinsettias Story

There is a legend that a little girl in Mexico and her cousinwere on their way to church in honor of the Christ child. The children did not have money for gifts. On the way to church, she picked a bouquet of wildflowers. As she laid them lovingly on the altar, they turned into beautiful poinsettias.

This story spurred on the name “Flores de Noche Buena” or Flowers of the Holy Night.

How To Select

“When picking a poinsettia, choose one with colorful bracts but one that the blooms have not opened,” said Chip East, Alabama Extension regional agent in commercial horticulture.

Bracts are the colorful leaves most people associate with the plant. The actual poinsettia flower is the small green or yellow flower in the center of the bracts. Plants should appear full with dark green leaves attached from the colored bracts to almost the base of the plant. The leaves should be completely free of disease and insects.


“Although most Christmas poinsettias are red and green, there is a wide array of other colors, including pink, white, orange, marbled, pale green and cream,”  added Shane Harris, Tallapoosa County Extension coordinator.

Care and Maintenance

Once a poinsettia is in the house,  place it in the window when possible. However, it can be moved to other areas for display when needed, said East.

The plants do not tolerate moisture or shady areas. They thrive in bright sunlight with moderate temperatures no higher than 70 degrees. If  sunlight is too direct, the bracts will discolor.

“If a pretty wrap is around the pot, remove the plant from the wrap before watering,” East said. “Allow the water to drain before placing the plant back in the decorative wrap.”

The average lifespan of an attractive poinsettia is about two to four weeks, or with exceptional care, six to eight weeks. However, it is actually a perennial plant that could live for many years.

“Getting a plant to reflower is difficult for the home grower but can be done,” East said. “Spending time to reflower a poinsettia would make a home grower appreciate the nursery that originally grew it.”

If someone wants to attempt to reflower and maintain their poinsettia, it will need more attention than in the Christmas season. For more in-depth information about post holiday care and reflowering tips, see Extension article “Consumer Poinsettia Care.”


White poinsettia image by photolona/Shutterstock.com

Featured image by AGCuesta/Shutterstock.com

About Peyton Hamby


  1. They are a great table centrepiece too – perfect for Christmas Donner! Love the ribbon around the pot idea! Thanks!

  2. Yes, these really are the flower we associate with Christmas. Thanks for the advice in how to pick a good one from the nursery. I’ll be wrapping mine in some gorgeous decorative wraps and ribbons and placing these on the table at Christmas. I’ll attempt to keep this going so will have a look at the poinsettia page on how to maintain them. Cheers.

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