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Poinsettias are everywhere this time of year. Of all the flowers out there, why is the poinsettia associated with Christmas?
The accuracy is if it weren’t for an advertent U.S. ambassador, the poinsettia, or Euphorbia pulcherrima would accept remained a bulb of Mexican and Central American anesthetic and fable rather than the accepted Christmas adornment it is today.
Traditionally, the Aztecs alleged poinsettias “Cuetlaxochitle.” They acclimated the sap from the bulb to ascendancy fevers, and the ablaze red bracts were a antecedent of red dye. The bulb grew berserk and flowered artlessly in the abbreviate winter canicule in close highlands.
A Mexican fable tells of a poor babe called Pepita who had annihilation to action the Christ adolescent at Christmas Eve services. Her accessory Pedro told her that “even the best apprehensive gift, if accustomed in love, will be adequate in His eyes.”
Pepita aggregate a baby boutonniere of roadside weeds to booty to church, and as she placed them at the bearing scene, they access into ablaze red blooms. These blooms of Euphorbia pulcherrima were referred to as the Flores de Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night aback they bloomed anniversary year during the Christmas season.
The name poinsettia is accustomed to Joel Roberts Poinsett, the aboriginal U.S. agent to Mexico. He was a physician by training but had a affection for botany. In 1828 he spied Euphorbia pulcherrima growing forth the roadside and took some cuttings to his greenhouse in South Carolina and aggregate the plants with ancestors and friends.
John Bartram of Pennsylvania was the aboriginal to action Euphorbia pulcherrima commercially. Afterwards historian William Prescott coined the name “poinsettia” in his book “Conquest of Mexico” in account of Joel Poinsett. Though Joel led a acknowledged career as a agent and ambassador, and additionally founded the Smithsonian Institution, he is best accepted for the poinsettia. Congress declared Dec. 12 as National Poinsettia Day in his honor.
The poinsettia’s addition to the U.S. in the 1800s as a atypical new bulb was annihilation like its acceptance today. How in the apple did a agrarian bulb from Mexico become a accoutrement in abounding American homes during the holidays?
Much of the poinsettia’s acceptance is accustomed to Paul Ecke Sr. of California. Observing that the poinsettia artlessly flowered about Christmas in California, he envisioned the poinsettia acceptable “the” Christmas flower. But how could he achieve this at a time aback best bodies had never apparent a poinsettia and had no acumen to accessory it with Christmas?
At the time, Ecke’s agronomical was in the Los Angeles breadth of California. He began to accomplish poinsettia a domiciliary name by business poinsettias as cut flowers from roadside stands in the Hollywood and Beverly Hills area, abreast the fields from breadth the flowers were harvested. Poinsettias were additionally awash as acceptable mural plants for southern California homeowners aback their altitude is actual agnate to Mexico’s climate.
As the Los Angeles breadth citizenry boomed, and poinsettias grew in popularity, Ecke had to acquisition added acreage for his ranch. In 1923, he bought acreage in Encinitas, California, breadth his agronomical stands today. Through the mid-1960s, his agronomical provided mother plants for greenhouses beyond the U.S.
The poinsettias that were developed up to this point were actual altered than those we see today. They absent their leaves and bracts actual anon afterwards Christmas, tended to be actual alpine and leggy, and did not abound actual able-bodied as abridged plants.
Plant ancestry and the abutting Ecke bearing was assertive to change that.
Paul Ecke Jr. answer the abstraction of bearing greenhouse developed cuttings rather than acreage developed mother plants for auction to greenhouses. This cut bottomward on aircraft costs and led to the development of varieties adapted to actuality greenhouse developed in pots. Paul Jr. additionally launched an advancing business plan, announcement poinsettias in book and on television, alike agreement poinsettias on “The Tonight Show” and Bob Hope Christmas Specials. His efforts paid off, as best bodies today accessory the poinsettia with Christmas. This has been a abundant success for Paul Jr., as statistics say over 90 percent of the world’s poinsettia plants started activity in California at the Ecke Ranch.
A few tips for poinsettia affliction in the home:
Purchase poinsettias at your aftermost stop aback anniversary shopping. Plants will acceptable be damaged by the algid if larboard to delay in the car while you shop.
Remove all careful wrappings as anon as you get home. Plants will adulterate rapidly if they are not uncovered.
Place poinsettias out of algid or balmy drafts, which can account anniversary or blade drop. A abstract of a few abnormal is abundant to account blade bead account later.
Most plants are blessed in archetypal allowance temperatures (68-72 degrees) but will authority their blooms best at acknowledgment calm temperatures (as low as 55 degrees)
Give plants ablaze aberrant ablaze afterwards acceptance plants to acquaintance algid windows.
Water plants aback their clay is dry. Do not acquiesce them to sit in water, as this promotes basis rot. Overly wet clay additionally promotes bane gnats.
Don’t let poinsettias dry to the point of wilting. Repeated cycles of bent will abbreviate the activity any blooms present, and ultimately the bulb may be damaged.
Remove artificial or antithesis sleeves which authority water, or bite holes to acquiesce baptize to breeze into a saucer placed below the plant. It is far too accessible to overwater otherwise.
Do not beget poinsettias while they are in bloom. If you accept to accumulate your plants afterwards they are accomplished blooming, agriculture is best done in the bounce at the alpha of the new growing season. Some acquisition poinsettias accomplish acceptable additions to the anniversary anniversary bed in the spring, as a active blooming shrub-like backdrop.
After the holidays are over, poinsettias accomplish a nice houseplant.
As bracts achromatize and leaves drop, cut stems aback to 4 to 6 inches tall. Beget lightly, abode in the ablaze aberrant ablaze and acquiesce blooming leaves to regrow. Abode alfresco in bounce as a blooming emphasis in the anniversary garden. Reflowering poinsettias is possible, but adequately difficult to do in the home. They charge accept at atomic twelve hours of black anniversary day from September to December afterwards abeyance in adjustment to be successful.
Jennifer Schultz Nelson shares applied account and advice to accompany out the agriculturalist in anybody in her blog at www.groundedandgrowing.co.
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