If you’ve watched the classic TV version of “Frosty the Snowman,” your heart probably sank when he stepped out of the cold and snow into a warm greenhouse.
He melted in the heat, only to come back to life when Santa opened the greenhouse door and let a cold draft of air in.
What you may not have noticed was that the greenhouse was filled with red poinsettias. For them, a cold draft is a dangerous thing.
“Poinsettias don’t like the cold, so you want to keep them away from drafty doors,” said Geoff Royer, Royer’s vice president of central operations.
The juxtaposition of poinsettias, also known as “The Christmas Flower,” with cold and snow belies the fact that they are tropical plants, native to Mexico and Central America.
You must treat them as such if you want to get the most out of your poinsettia this holiday season.
National Poinsettia Day
Of course, December is synonymous with Christmas, but Dec. 12 is National Poinsettia Day. It commemorates the 1851 death of Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico and the man after whom poinsettias are named.
Poinsett introduced the plant to the United States in 1825, sending samples to friends in his native Charleston, S.C. Poinsettias made their public debut at a Philadelphia flower show in 1829.
For their first hundred years in America, poinsettias were mostly sold as cut flowers. That was until Paul Ecke, a southern California agriculturalist, created varieties that could be shipped in pots.
Poinsettias registered sales of $213.7 million last year, according to Axios, up 40 percent from 2020.
But for all the popularity of poinsettias, how to care for them remains much less well known and bear repeating. In fact, we go over poinsettia care tips with our own staff in the lead-up to every holiday season.
Unless you want to end up on someone’s naughty list, here’s what else you need to know to ensure your Christmas Flower lasts well into the new year.
- Average room temperature is fine. Poinsettias can’t tolerate cold (including icy water) and can suffer from droopy leaves (a condition known as epinasty) if exposed to cold temperatures.
- Epinasty also can result from a build-up of ethylene gas. Big-box retailers are notorious for leaving poinsettias in plastic sleeves, which trap ethylene and essentially ruin the plant.
- Bright, ample light is best for the plant, mimicking conditions in Mexico.
- Keep the plant moist but not sitting in water. Like people, poinsettias don’t like wet feet. The frequency and amount of water will vary depending upon the amount of sunlight, humidity and pot size to which the plant is exposed.
- Poinsettias are sensitive plants, so you want to avoid banging them into things as they can bruise easily.
We wish you and your family a Happy Poinsettia Day and a Merry Christmas!