December 12th: National Poinsettia Day

Often referred to as the Christmas flower, poinsettias have been gaining in popularity over the past few years and are loved for their exuberance and colour. The ubiquitous red varieties will always be a popular choice for Christmas but there are other varieties in pink, cream and peachy tones that are perfect alternatives.

Gorgeous varieties of pink poinsettia
Gorgeous varieties of pink poinsettia

To celebrate we have enjoyed a special class McQueens Flower School dedicated to the delights of poinsettia and incorporated the magnificent flower within a hand-tied bouquet. Poinsettia is very susceptible to the cold and drafty conditions and can damage easily. Poinsettia aren’t particularly well-known as a long-lasting flower. To get maximum vase life we recommend sealing the bottom of the stem with the flame from a match and changing the water regularly.

Poinsettia EVERYWHERE
Poinsettia EVERYWHERE

National Poinsettia Day on December 12th marks the anniversary of the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett – an American diplomat who popularised the appeal of the Mexican plant upon encountering it back in 1828. Since then it has travelled the waters to our shores and, over time, become almost synonymous with Christmas due to its vivid festive red bracts  – though this year is set to see a departure in keeping with a growing trend – the rise of the ‘millennial pink’.  Pink has become one of the most fashionable colours of the year and the poinsettia is ready to jump on the bandwagon just in time for the festive season. 

Step by step demonstration
Step by step demonstration

To celebrate National Poinsettia Day on December 12, European poinsettia breeders, Stars for Europe, have put together some interesting facts and history about the Christmas plant we all know and love:

  1. The poinsettia grows in the highlands of Central America, reaching a height of up to five metres in its native environment.
  2. In Mexico, where the poinsettia is steeped in legend, it is known as Flores de Noche Buena – ‘Flowers of the Holy Night’.
  3. It is treasured by Mexico’s people and was first put to use by the Aztecs to adorn temples where it was seen as a symbol of new life for warriors who had fallen in battle.
  4. It is believed to be the favourite flower of the Aztec ruler Montezuma, who thought the red stain on its upper leaves came from the blood of an Aztec goddess who died of a broken heart. His legend spread all the way to Europe, where it most likely inspired the poinsettia’s French name – ‘Étoile d’amour’, or Star of Love.
  5. Legend has it that a little girl named Pepita was too poor to buy a real present for baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. So instead she picked green twigs from a shrub on her way to church and tied them into a bouquet. When she placed her gift at the foot of the altar, the twigs suddenly bloomed in a magnificent red.  It is said that the Poinsettia’s Mexican name, Flores de Noche Buena originated here and hence it became the country’s official Christmas Flower.
  6. In 1828, the American ambassador in Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, brought poinsettias to the USA. It was in his honour, that the plant was given its name ‘poinsettia’.
  7. Poinsett died on 12th December 1851, and in 1852 US Congress introduced Poinsettia Day.
  8. There are 150 varieties of poinsettia with more added every year.
  9. Poinsettias are famous for being red, but they come in an array of sizes and gorgeous colours including winter white, antique peach, dark maroon, cinnamon, deep pink and more.
  10. 8 million poinsettias are sold over the Christmas season, making it the nation’s favourite houseplant over this period.

    Student works with bold and beautiful poinsettias
    Bold and beautiful poinsettias