Poinsettias, also known as Mexican Flame Leaf, are traditionally associated with the festive season owing to their bright colours and sweet charm. With a selection of vibrant pink, red, white, cream, purple, yellow, orange, and bi-colours on the market, your holiday collection would be incomplete without one of these sweethearts. Join Life is a Garden as we explore this fiery foliage plant further.
Did you know? The ancient Aztecs used poinsettias to make red dye, and they turned to poinsettia sap to control fevers.
The legend of the poinsettia dates back to 16th century Mexico and tells of a young girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. An angel appeared and inspired her to gather weeds from the roadside and to place them in front of the church’s altar. Crimson ‘blossoms’ sprouted from the weeds and grew to become beautiful poinsettias.
Try this: If you want your poinsettia to grow larger and even more spectacular, plant them out in your garden below a tree or shaded area. Plants can quite easily grow up to 3 metres tall when given enough room and in the correct environment.
Flamboyant foliage we love
In South Africa, poinsettias are a common garden plant that flowers during winter. Potted varieties have been specifically grown for the summer season and are available in a variety of intense colours. The plant is synonymous with the upcoming holiday season, making a bold statement that will last for months!
Grow them in full shade or indoors with plenty of good light. Plants must be protected from the hot summer sun if it is to flower. Only water a poinsettia when the soil is dry to the touch. Water until water seeps out the bottom of the drainage holes. Although poinsettias do not like to dry out, they also do not like to sit in water.