It just would not be Christmas without Poinsettias! With striking pointed red leaves surrounding a cluster of yellow flowers poinsettias have become more and more popular in South Africa around Christmas. The name for poinsettia in the ancient Aztec culture meant "star flower" and it is this link to the star over Bethlehem that brings them into the Christmas tradition.
Poinsettias are easy to maintain and will last for a few months indoors making them a wonderful addition to your Christmas decorations and are a great gift idea.
The plants association with Christmas began in 16th century Mexico, where legend tells of a young child who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus' birthday. The tale goes that the child was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson "blossoms" sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias.
How to look after your Poinsettia
- Poinsettias need high light.
The red flower is in fact a mutation of the leaves attracting insects to the small yellow flowers. With the leaves red they need brighter light than green leaves would to survive.
- Keep them dry.
Poinsettias come from the desserts of Mexico. The most common mistake we make is to over water them indoors. They should be allowed to dry out between watering and only need water every ten days or so.
- Poinsettias naturally flower in winter.
To get Poinsettias to flower in our summer Christmas they are tricked into flower by the growers by having the shutters drawn in the afternoon giving them a longer night. Poinsettias can be grown successfully outside as a large shrub. After Christmas they can be planted outside in a protected position, as they are cold sensitive, where they will naturally flower every winter.