Surprisingly, but a tropical plant is strongly linked to Christmas. Poinsettia Christmas tree decorations are probably an associative series when you think of Christmas. It’s no exaggeration that poinsettia and Christmas tree are the main decorations during the festive season. However, it is infamous for being almost impossible to stay alive for longer than several weeks. This plant can thrive much longer despite stereotypes, and we will tell you how!
Why is poinsettia regarded as a Christmas decoration?
Let’s begin with the history behind it. This flower, also known as ‘Taxco del Alarcon’ and ‘Flor de la Noche Buena,’ is native to Taxco, Mexico. The second name is significant since it was given to the plant because it reminds the star of Bethlehem. So here is it – the first hint that this flower is associated with Christmas somehow. There’s even the legend of poinsettia about a poor girl named Pepita. She didn’t have a present for baby Jesus, so she decided to give him a bouquet of weeds. The angels sympathized with her and transformed it into a gorgeous red flower.
In the 17th century in Mexico, Franciscan monks included this plant in the Christmas celebrations. Poinsettia’s meaning in Christian symbolism is clear – red represents Jesus’ blood, his sacrifice. Those monks from the 17th century were the first who associated this plant with Christmas and used it as one of the cheap Christmas decorations. In Europe and northern America, Poinsettia became popular thanks to Joel Robert Poinsett. As you might have noticed, the plant was then named after him. He was the first American ambassador to Mexico, who was also interested in plants. So when he found what was then named poinsettia, he sent it to Greenville, South Carolina, where he had his greenhouses. Poinsett started to send these flowers to his friends, and then they were sold. There’s the reason why this flower is so popular during the Christmas holidays. First of all, festive colors – red and green- are connected to Christmas. Secondly, and even more importantly, poinsettia blooms in winter, making it a perfect plant for this holiday.
Beautiful but tricky
Probably, you wonder why Christmas poinsettia dies so fast after the holidays. Sometimes, it’s forgotten that poinsettia is a tropical plant that doesn’t like cold and drafts, which is often experienced in stores. These plants are usually placed on windows or close to doors to attract potential customers – and this is how the plant is damaged. At first, it’s hard to spot the damage caused by such conditions, but then it becomes obvious. After two-three weeks, the leaves become dry and fall off. After that, the plant cannot be saved.
However, there is good news: the plant can be kept alive all year, and it’s not very picky despite its reputation for being such.
How to make Christmas star stay longer
Many people treat a poinsettia as one of the Christmas decorations and throw it once the holidays are over. But it can please the eyes longer. Of course, it is not as spectacular as in winter during the blooming season, but it is still something! And if you want to keep it for longer, you need to know how to take care of a poinsettia.
Since Christmas plant is native to Central America, it loves warmth and well-lit places. Adequate light is vital, the plant needs it to be indirect and bright. Direct light in summer can burn the leaves badly, but it won’t be a problem in winter. In November, poinsettia requires a strict balance of shade and light. It needs 12 hours of bright daylight and 12 in complete darkness.
If your red Christmas plant starts to lose its leaves, cold can be one of the reasons. The perfect temperature for this plant is 65-70˚F (18-21˚C). The lowest temperature it can take is 50°F (10˚C), so don’t expose your poinsettia to temperatures below that. This plant won’t survive severe frosts. You need a balance; take it away from open windows, open doors, drafts. At the same time, don’t leave it in places that can be arid, so placing it close to heat ducts, heaters, or fireplaces is a bad idea.
If you have a chance, you can move your plant to a cooler place at night. If you want to move a Christmas star outside, late May is the perfect time. At first, place it in a shady place for 2-3 days, let it adapt. Then moderately expose it to more prolonged periods of direct sunlight. But it can stay outside only until September, this month it’s better to bring poinsettia inside.
As you probably guessed, poinsettia likes everything in moderation. Same with water. This plant doesn’t like too much or too little of it. However, overwatering is more dangerous because it can cause root rot. So it’s better to keep it drier than too moist. And the best solution is to water your plant often but a little rather than rarely and too much. But how often and when do you need to water poinsettia? Leaves are the ones that can hint you how much water it needs. If they become yellowish or start to fall off, you are doing something wrong. Another helpful thing is soil; check it, and if it’s seemingly dry – water it.
This plant requires sterile, well-draining, and loose soil, which also can be slightly acidic. All-purpose soil with peat, added drainage, and orchid bark is almost perfect for it. And don’t forget it needs to be slightly moist but never dripping wet.
Always included in the lists of Christmas decoration ideas, this plant is more than just a temporary beautification. If you know how to care for a poinsettia, it can last a year or even longer. And we hope this article will help you to do so.