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Poinsettia – flower of the season

Poinsettias are native to Mexico. The legend of the poinsettia dates back several centuries, to a Christmas Eve in Mexico when a little girl had no gift to present to the Christ child. Her cousin urged her to give a humble gift. So, on her way to church she gathered weeds found along the road. As she approached the altar, a miracle happened: The weeds blossomed into brilliant flowers. They were then called Flores de Noche Buena – Flowers of the Holy Night. 

Today they are called poinsettias, in honor of Joel Poinsett. He was the first ambassador to Mexico and responsible for introducing the plant to the United States in 1825. December 12th is National Poinsettia Day. It was established upon the death of Mr. Poinsett to honor him and the plant he made famous.   

Poinsettias are one of the longest-lasting blooming plants available to consumers. 

To choose the perfect poinsettia:

• Pick a plant with small, tightly clustered buds in the center.

• Look for crisp, bright, undamaged foliage.

To keep your poinsettia blooming:

• When surface soil is dry to the touch, water thoroughly. Discard excess water in the saucer.

• Place plants away from hot or cold drafts, and protect them from cold winds.

• To prolong color, keep a temperature range of 60 degrees for night and 72 degrees for day. High humidity is preferable.

There are many colors, sizes and shapes to choose from. Check with your local garden centers and florists. The holidays would not be the same without the Flores de Noche Buena.

Rebecca Bates is director of the Lincoln County Cooperative Extension Service. To contact her, call 601-835-3460