The Holiday Favorite Named for an Ambassador

Poinsettias: Holiday Plant of the Week

The Aztecs were making medicines and dyes from the form of Euphorbia now known as the Poinsettia plant centuries before Joel Robert Poinsett set foot in Mexico, but the interest he took in this tropical plant made it the holiday favorite it is today. Poinsett, the United States’ first ambassador to Mexico, brought the first of the plants that now bear his name to the U.S. in 1825.

Originally, Poinsettias were all about deep green leaves, bright red bracts, and the tiny yellow and green flowers (cyathia) that appear at the center of each bract. Over the years, the choices have greatly expanded. For several decades, the botanical wizards at the Paul Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, California, have been developing a staggering array of these plants. Thanks to their work, Poinsettias now bloom in white, pink, peach, gold, burgundy, and beyond. Some forms of Poinsettias, including Glitter and Jingle Bells, have variegated bracts which include splashes of color on color. Winter Rose produces attractive crinkly bracts, while Tapestry is all about red bracts that bloom above holly-like white-edged leaves. Gold Rush, the first golden variety, is all the rage this year!

At Rohsler’s, we also offer you the option of hand painted Poinsettias in statement-making colors like turquoise, deep blue, purple, apricot, and more. Our Poinsettias are carefully painted one plant at a time right here at Rohsler’s. Custom orders are welcome.

Despite a rumor from the early 20th century, Poinsettias are not poisonous to humans or animals. If accidentally ingested, the parts of this plant may cause stomach upset. If you have any concerns at all, simply place your Poinsettias out of reach on a mantle or shelf.

Keeping your Poinsettias out of cold or drafty areas will ensure that these plants stay healthy longer. Remember that these plants originated in the tropics, and need protection from cold New Jersey winters.

Give your Poinsettias bright light — and even full sun at this time of year. Allow the soil to become dry to the touch before giving your Poinsettias a thorough watering. Never allow your Poinsettias to sit in a saucer of water, and remember not to fertilize Poinsettias while they are in full flower.

With a bit of care, these lovely houseplants will last and last. Your Poinsettias will be ready to go outdoors after the last threat of frost in May. We recommend cutting the flower bracts at this time to encourage new branching. They can remain outdoors through August, when you will want to make your final cut back or pinch before bringing your plants back into the house.

New Jersey’s short fall days naturally trigger new blooms in time for Christmas. When you bring your Poinsettias back inside the house, keep them in a room where there will be no interruption of the nighttime darkness until mid-November. We suggest placing a piece of tape over the light switch in that room to remind you not to disturb your Poinsettias during the night. During the day, your plants should be in a sunny window. New colorful bracts should appear in seven to nine weeks.

We will be happy to dress up the Poinsettias’ pots with foil at no extra charge and send them home with you. See you soon!