The History of the Festive Poinsettia
Let us begin with a beautiful festive tale. According to legends, a poor child in Mexico who had no gift to bare the baby Jesus, gathered a handful of weeds and formed them into a simple bouquet to present to him on his birthday. By the time the child arrived at the manger, the basic bouquet had magically transformed into a spectacular show of red vibrant blooms and what we now know as the Poinsettia, was born and subsequently christened the ‘Flower of the Holy Night’.
The Poinsettia has a variation of names depending on the country that you live in. If you live in Chile and Peru you will know the plant as ‘Crown of the Andes.’ Hungarians call the poinsettia ‘Santa Claus Flower’ and it is commonly used as a Christmas decoration. Poinsettia itself derives from the name of ‘Joel Roberts Poinsett’ who, in 1828 introduced the plant to the United States of America. A talented individual, Mr. Poinsett was a Botanist, Physician and also the first United States Ambassador of Mexico. He sent cuttings of the now legendary plant he had discovered in Southern Mexico back to his home in Charleston, South Carolina to grow.
The Poinsettia, also called by its botanical name Euphorbia pulcherrima, is a colourful, decorative, floral symbol of Christmas, seen in homes and properties all around the world during the lead up and over the festive holiday celebrations. Flowering during the months of December and January, this plant makes a perfect choice in festive flower displays, and as a standalone showcase plant. Although do take care when handling or removing any damaged leaves as the white sap can irritate the skin. It’s perfectly formed petals in shades of pink, red and white look so striking, nestled amongst the contrasting forest green leaves of the plant. You may be interested to know that the coloured petals are actually leaves, known as bracts and that they are created through photoperiodism. This means that the plants need at least 12 hours of darkness each day during its growing period, together with strong daylight during the day to change their colour. This helps to maintain those lovely kaleidoscopic tones that we are all so fond of.
Caring For You Poinsettia
Poinsettias thrive indoors in nice even warm temperatures, with a minimum of 13°C, together with filtered, bright light. They can grow in size to over 2ft in height and 1ft in width. Over watering and cold is the most likely cause of problems, so it is advisable to purchase them from a warm greenhouse rather than a drafty supermarket door! and only water them once the compost has started to dry out. Regular misting of the plants foliage will create a humid temperature and help extend the life of the flowers. Feeding your plants will keep them looking tip top during the festive season. At the Garden Centre we have a handy drip feeder so nutrients are gradually released to promote resilience and strong growth – all with no mess, no fuss and no mixing!
At Aylett Nurseries we grow 23 different varieties of Poinsettias which allows us to offer a choice of colours; pink, cream and salmon as well as the more traditional reds.
Our selection of young plants arrived on the Nursery in mid- July, since then they have been lovingly looked after by our Nursery team. They have been fed and spaced regularly to ensure that the finished plant is the best shape and colour possible. They are now at the end of their growing phase, and the top leaf bracts are beginning to change colour.
As well as being a decoration in our homes, these exquisite plants make a really thoughtful and heartfelt gift to friends and loved ones over the festive season. Why not take advantage of our gift wrapping service to help you stay organised with your Christmas shopping? If you are unable to visit Aylett Nurseries, then we would be absolutely delighted, subject to a nominal delivery charge, to take your order over the phone so we can arrange to have your special gifts delivered for you, all in time for Christmas!
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