Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Poinsettia, Flor de Nochebuena (Christmas Eve Flower)
Euphorbia pulcherrima

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Family: Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Euphorbia (yoo-FOR-bee-uh) (Info)
Species: pulcherrima (pul-KAIR-ih-muh) (Info)

Synonym:Poinsettia pulcherrima

One vendor has this plant for sale.

8 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Category:
Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Height:
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

Spacing:
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Danger:
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Pink
Rose/Mauve
Red
Scarlet (Dark Red)
White/Near White
Cream/Tan

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Late Fall/Early Winter
Mid Winter

Foliage:
Grown for foliage
Evergreen

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is suitable for growing indoors

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

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There are a total of 46 photos.
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Profile:

16 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Positive hipgranny63 On Dec 16, 2013, hipgranny63 from Edmonds, WA (Zone 8a) wrote:

This is my second Christmas with my poinsettia, which was originally a gift, set in an arrangement with a small conifer and another plant. After Christmas last year, I kept it in a northern window, but it outgrew its container, becoming a lush dark green, so I transplanted it into a larger container. As it's very fragile, some of the branches broke off during the transition, but it bounced back. It's now in a west window, about two feet tall and the brackets are blooming very well. Hopefully, it will continue to flourish as it makes an attractive, green houseplant during the rest of the year.

Neutral gregokla On Dec 16, 2013, gregokla from Hulbert, OK wrote:

As these beauties begin flowering, root rot can cause sudden death. It is very difficult to prevent this without drenching them, preventatively, with costly fungicides which are often labeled as restricted chemicals.

Keeping these spurges evenly moist during flowering can help, but this doesn't always work. Some varieties are more susceptible than others.

My advice is to enjoy poinsettias during the holidays, then toss them after the flowers are shot.

Positive jalokia On Mar 6, 2009, jalokia from Colorado Springs, CO wrote:

this plant can grow in the cold climate of colorado springs but must be sheltered in a house before the cold days in fall return.
I dont know why people throw hundreds of these away a year. with a little care and attention it can be a long lived perennial and can happily live in a twelve gollon bucket or or bag for quite awhile

this marvelous plant is already coming out of dormancy after a good months rest


Positive imnotagardener On Aug 5, 2008, imnotagardener from Gaylordsville, CT wrote:

Hello - I was given a poinsettia as a gift between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2007. I've never purchased a plant before and never strived to take care of one. It was my understanding that poinsettias normally "bloom" with red leaves during and around Christmas time and die shortly thereafter. It's now August 5th 2008 and my poinsettia is still around and kicking (which I now understand from reading this site isn't abnormal) however it still has many red leaves. I'd say at least 80% of the leaves or "bracts" are still a vibrant red and the green leaves seem very healthy. Very few leaves/bracts have shriveled and fallen off over the past 9 months or so and there is new growth near the soil line. Is this normal?

Positive goofybulb On Jun 16, 2008, goofybulb from El Paso, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I've had one potted inside and kept as a houseplant. I managed to keep it for about one year and a half, than it "melted" away.
The second one, however, I kept outside at all times. It thrived, and now it's a lovely 3 year old bush. Though I didn't manage to make her develop red bracts or flowers, it is a lovely plant to have, the green leaves are beautiful.
It doesn't like wet feet, but do not let the soil dry out completely either. My plant is in full sun from late morning till early afternoon, and bright shade afterwards.
This plant loves air circulating, so please resist the temptation to keep it in the shiny colorful foil it's usual sold in! Also, that foil keeps too much moisture around the roots, favoring rot, so just remove it as fast as you can! It is the first rule of thumb if you want to try to keep it more than just for Christmas.
For colder zones, it is said that cold air (freezing temperatures) can damage leaves in a very short time, like taking it from the shop to your home.

Neutral 1cros3nails4gvn On Jan 2, 2007, 1cros3nails4gvn from Bluffton, SC (Zone 9a) wrote:

Here people plant them in their flower beds for a festive look around Christmas and they usually keep them all winter, but in the spring they are replaced with other flowers. I dont know why no one just plants them as a shrub. They plant them in the flower beds at one of the coldest times of the year (for us December is usually colder for some reason. It starts to warm up in January. i dont know why.), so it cant be that they are not cold hardy. although we are actually classified as zone 8b, we have mostly 9a "winters", so technically they shouldnt grow here during the holidays, but they do. Does anyone have an idea as to why?

Positive purewildbarley On Jan 10, 2006, purewildbarley from Orem, UT wrote:

Those of us living in the frigid north, where there is no hope of planting a poinsettia outside, often throw them away by February. There is no reason for doing this! I have rescued a couple poinsettias from the trash, and found cultivating them rewarding. One has rebloomed for me this year (I didn't do anything to force the blooms -- I simply live in a basement apartment where it gets enough darkness, apparently), and is absolutely stunning because it is now much larger than the kind typically found foil-wrapped in grocery stores.

If you don't like the large size, it is easy to take cuttings: I accidentally knocked off one of the branches, repotted it, and now have a new small shapely plant.

Positive margu On Dec 24, 2005, margu from Los Angeles, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Okay then, I'm going to plant the one I just got a as a gift outside and see how it does in the hot Los Angeles summer!

Positive JerusalemCherry On Dec 12, 2005, JerusalemCherry from Dunellen, NJ (Zone 6b) wrote:

The Aztecs called poinsettias "Cuetlaxochitle." During the 14th - 16th century the sap was used to control fevers and the bracts (modified leaves) were used to make a reddish dye.

Montezuma, the last of the Aztec kings, would have poinsettias brought into what now is Mexico City by caravans because poinsettias could not be grown in the high altitude.


William Prescott, a historian and horticulturist, was asked to give Euphorbia pulcherrima a new name as it became more popular. At that time Mr. Prescott had just published a book called the Conquest of Mexico in which he detailed Joel Poinsett’s discovery of the plant. So, Prescott named the plant the poinsettia in honor of Joel Poinsett’s discovery.

The botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, was assigned to the poinsettia by the German botanist, Wilenow. The plant grew through a crack in his greenhouse. Dazzled by its color, he gave it the botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima meaning "very beautiful."


Joel Roberts Poinsett was the first United States Ambassador to Mexico being appointed by President Andrew Jackson in the 1820's. At the time of his appointment, Mexico was involved in a civil war. Because of his interest in botany he introduced the American Elm into Mexico. During his stay in Mexico he wandered the countryside looking for new plant species. In 1828 he found a beautiful shrub with large red flowers growing next to a road. He took cuttings from the plant and brought them back to his greenhouse in South Carolina. Even though Poinsett had an outstanding career as a United States Congressman and as an ambassador he will always be remembered for introducing the poinsettia into the United States.

A nursery from Pennsylvania, John Bartram is credited as being the first person to sell poinsettias under its botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima.


In the early 1900's the Ecke family of southern California grew poinsettias outdoors for use as landscape plants and as a cut flower. Eventually the family grew poinsettias in greenhouses and today are recognized as the leading producer of poinsettias in the United States.

Here are some nice poinsettia facts...

Poinsettias are native to Mexico.

The Aztecs called the poinsettia Cuetlayochitl.

Chile and Peru called the poinsettia the "Crown of the Andes."

Poinsettias are part of the Euphorbiaceae family. Many plants in this family ooze a milky sap.

In nature, poinsettias are a perennial flowering shrubs that can grow to ten feet tall.

The showy colored part of poinsettias that most people think are the flowers are actually colored bracts (modified leaves).

The flowers or cyathia of the poinsettia are in the center of the colorful bracts.

Poinsettias have been called the lobster flower and flame leaf flower.

Poinsettias are not poisonous.

A study at Ohio State University showed that a 50 pound child who ate 500 bracts might have a slight tummy ache.

A fresh poinsettia is one on which little or no yellow pollen is showing on the flower clusters in the center of the bracts.

Poinsettias represent over 85 percent of the potted plant sales during the holiday season.
Ninety percent of all poinsettias are exported from the United States.

Poinsettias were introduced into the United States in 1825 by Joel Poinsett.

Poinsettias are commercially grown in all 50 states.

California is the top poinsettia producing state.

December 12 is National Poinsettia Day.

The Paul Ecke Ranch in California grows over 80 percent of poinsettias in the United States for the wholesale market.

Ninety per cent of all the flowering poinsettias in the world got their start at the Paul Ecke Ranch.

There are over 100 varieties of poinsettias available.

$220 million worth of poinsettias are sold during the holiday season.

Seventy-four percent of Americans still prefer red poinsettias; 8 percent prefer white and 6 percent pink.

Eighty percent of poinsettias are purchased by women.

Eighty percent of people who purchase poinsettias are 40 or older.

Poinsettias are the best selling potted plant in the United States.

Poinsettias are the most popular Christmas plant even though most are sold in a 6 week period.

Sixty million pots of poinsettias were grown in 1997.

The cost of a poinsettia is determined by the number of blooms.

Positive kayma On Dec 9, 2005, kayma from Bradenton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

I received my poinsettia for Thanksgiving 2003 in a 6" pot. Since we now live in Southwest Florida , I was able to keep it healthy all winter (I have killed all others received in years past) and moved it outside onto the lanai in Spring '04. I repotted it this past July after one of the hurricanes (sorry lose track of which one did what when) knocked it over and broke off a few branches. It is a very forgiving plant as I did not water as frequently as I should've - at times only watering when the leaves were drooping. Last Christmas it did not give me any color but did bloom in April 05. This December it is blooming and very beautiful. I have done nothing special to get it to bloom except fertilize it once a month. My intent is to plant it outside in the near future.

Neutral crazyplantguy On Feb 7, 2005, crazyplantguy from Philadelphia, PA wrote:

it is a well known fact among most gardeners that the poinsettia plant is not poisonous. Go to any poisonous plants page and you will find more. The plant is named after James Poinsett, who I'd rather forget because his job was to rid the U.S of american indians, not so respectful. So lets call this pretty plant euphorbia . Also grows with proper care after the holidays I'm not so sure about all of the closet buisness or the calculated daylight to get it to bloom. Just water and repot. Its green leaves are way nicer than red. I've had mine for about 2 years or so its taken on quite a tree appearance.

Positive htop On Jan 4, 2004, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, Tx.
Joel Roberts Poinsett, our first ambassador to Mexico, who dcovered this plant while in Mexico in 1828, brought back cuttings and grew them in his greenhouse in South Carolina. The rest is history. The Aztecs called the poinsettia Cuetlayochitl; whereas, in Chile and Peru it is called the "Crown of the Andes." It is known as "lobster flower", "flower of the Holy Night" and "flame leaf flower" as well. The flowers (cyathia) are located in the center of the colorful bracts. Do not plant near a night time light source as this will disrupt the blooming cycle.

If you have never heard the legend of the Christmas poinsettia which originated in Mexico and are interested read below:

A girl named Maria and her little brother Pablo were very poor, but they always looked forward to the Christmas festival with great anticipation. In the village church each year a manger scene was placed for all to view. Parades and parties preceded Christmas day with all the villagers taking part in the festivities. The two children were sad each year because they had no money with which to buy presents. They wished above all that they could give Baby Jesus in the manger scene a present. They tried to find something to give, but they had nothing.

One Christmas Eve on their way to attend the church service, they picked some weeds growing along the roadside as their gift to the Baby Jesus in the manger scene. The other children teased them upon their arrival with their gifts, but they did not reply because they knew they had given all that they had to give. The children began placing the green plants all around the manger. The green top leaves of the weeds turned into bright red petals with yellow centers and the manger was surrounded by the beautiful plants that we know today as poinsettias.



Positive JeanAdkins On Oct 13, 2003, JeanAdkins from Escondido, CA wrote:

I now have 4 poinsettias that I have growing in pots. After their Christmas bloom, I cut them back about half. Then I place them facing east and continue to water, feed and pinch back to keep them short and fuller. The bracts are not large but quite pretty. Beginning October 1, I cover them at night so that they are in total darkness. I wonder about this because of the huge poinsettia fields nearby to Escondido, CA where I live. I think it is time to repot them in larger containers, but they seem quite healthy.

Positive Phaltyme On Oct 1, 2003, Phaltyme from Garden City, MI (Zone 6b) wrote:

Such interesting experiences. I'm in Michigan. We got a very nice plant for Christmas and I don't discard a plant until it is stone-cold-dead. Anyway, it thrived in our living room and began to grow,what to do? We rearranged the furniture-with 5 kids and 2 cats-this wasn't easy. We finally settled on where to put it, it continued to grow and reached the ceiling and branched to about 5 ft. wide. WOW! Spring came just in time, it was difficult getting it outdoors but we did it. It stayed nice all summer but when frost time came, we had to tell it goodbye. We loved the experience.

Positive Larry_McMinn On Sep 30, 2003, Larry_McMinn from San Diego, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

After Christmas 2002 my neighbor was going to throw out her 8" high in a 6" pot Poinsettia, I ask if i could have it. Well after taking care of this beautiful plant for 10 months and its now in a 16" pot and its grown to a whopping 36" high plant which now seems not so large.

My only concern is when Christmas rolls around this year is someone my take my plant, and we have become very attracted to each other. I have found that in San Diego it needs about 64 ounces of water every other day to stay heathly and full sun. I will post some pics soon.

Positive Nurafey On May 18, 2003, Nurafey from Polk City, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

When a child, we had Poinsettias growing on the East side of the house by the A/C unit. They were at least 6' high and needed no special tending. The Monarch butterflies (or at least a butterfly that looked like them, I was very little) loved them, and I used to sit in the middle of them on the A/C unit to watch them. It seems to me that they bloomed quite often. I also have some growing now, I just moved them from a full-sun exposure to a more dappled spot. I am in Central Florida and they were getting burned by the extreme sun and dry hot sandy soil. (They were in the back, which is all pine bark mulch and about 4 feet wide.) I am hoping for better results, with milder light and richer soil.

Neutral Bug_Girl On Apr 16, 2003, Bug_Girl from San Francisco, CA wrote:

Most people don't keep this plant after Christmas, but I have seen some growing outdoors in my area. They they need some support or staking. They can climb up the side of a house.

I have heard stories about things like you have to keep them in total darkness or they won't rebloom, but if the ones planted outdoors bloom, then those stories can't be true. They come in a number of new and exciting colors, as well, as the red.

Positive Lavanda On Jan 21, 2003, Lavanda from Mcallen, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Native of Mexico, these can be seen growing wild as well as in domesticated home gardens. In mild climates, they can grow to be 20 feet tall when planted in the ground.

A marvelous sight to see in the winter months in Mexico - so tall and in full bloom for most of November, all of December, and January.

Positive WAYNEB On Dec 17, 2002, WAYNEB wrote:

It is a common misconception that this plant is poisonous to humans or pets. It is not poisonous although the milky sap may be irritating to the skin of some sensitive people. There has been extensive scientific testing to back this up and many sites on the web can be accessed to verify it. One of the most detailed discussions is at: http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/poinsettias.htm

Positive Terry On Sep 12, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is a classic holiday plant, outsold only by Christmas trees. Sometimes pronounced "poin-set-uh" and sometimes "poin-set-ee-uh".

The species name, pulcherrima, means "most beautiful". This native of Mexico is named for Dr. J.R. Poinsett, and was introduced to gardeners in the early 19th century. The "flowers" are actually bracts, and growers have created larger, showier cultivars in recent years. Colors now range from white to burgundy, and some are bi-color, appearing to be "splashed" with contrasting colors.

In its natural habitat, this plant can easily reach 10' in one season. Most growers pinch it back to create more branches and keep it under 2' tall for retail sales.

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

,
Jones, Alabama
Berkeley, California
Brea, California
Encino, California
Escondido, California
Hayward, California
Laguna Hills, California
Lompoc, California
Oak View, California
San Diego, California
San Francisco, California
Simi Valley, California
Stratmoor, Colorado
Bartow, Florida
Belleair Bluffs, Florida
Bradenton, Florida
Campbell, Florida
Clearwater, Florida
Dunedin, Florida
Jacksonville Beach, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Manasota Key, Florida
Miami, Florida
New Port Richey East, Florida
Palm Beach Shores, Florida
Pine Hills, Florida
Port Orange, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Williston, Florida
Mountain Park, Georgia
Honomu, Hawaii
Saint Martin, Mississippi
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Bluffton, South Carolina
Abram-perezville, Texas
Cameron Park, Texas
Falcon Heights, Texas
Houston, Texas
La Vernia, Texas
Macallen, Texas (2 reports)
Muniz, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Edmonds, Washington



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