Wednesday, December 12, 2012

National Poinsettia Day is 12/12/12

Red bracts + tiny flowers
 12/12/12 is the last repeating date in our lifetimes, plus it is also designated National Poinsettia Day

Lighting up homes for the Christmas holiday, the poinsettia is a decorative houseplant (tender perennial) that blooms during the long nights and short days at the end of December, in sync with Christmas and the New Year. Ask your Crabapple Rep for an estimate to decorate your Rental Office or HOA Clubhouse with poinsettias next year! 

Modern Breeding
Modern breeding has created rainbows of poinsettias from red and pink to yellow and white, spotted and speckled, with variegated foliage and shapes from roses to stars. More than 100 cultivars are listed.

Pink edged with white
All this from a non-descript Mexican and South American native wildflower that the Aztecs called Cuitlaxochiti, meaning “star flower”. Also a medicinal plant, the sticky sap was used to control fevers. Contrary to popular belief, the plant is not poisonous and Poison Control Centers do not list it. However, the milky sap of all Euphorbias (poinsettias included) can irritate the skin.

Variety 'Ice Punch' 
In Mexico and Guatemala the flower is known as Noche Buena or “Christmas Eve”. 

Ambassador Joel Roberts Poinsett 
In English-speaking countries, poinsettias are named for Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, who became enamored of the wildflower in the 1820s. In 1826 he shipped plants to his plantation in South Carolina, introducing the Mexican wildflowers to the U.S. They grew well when transplanted to his greenhouse and the name “poinsettia” became the accepted name of the flower.  

In July 2002 the House of Representatives created Poinsettia Day that also honored Paul Ecke Jr., an Encinitas, California grower and breeder considered the “father of the modern poinsettia”. Until the 1990's, the Ecke family had a monopoly on a technique they discovered that caused seedlings to branch, creating bushy plants for sale throughout December. Wholesale poinsettias contribute $250M+ to the U.S. economy annually and are the best-selling houseplant in North America.

Yellow Bracts
Hate to Throw Away Plants?
Poinsettias hold their colorful blossoms long after the holidays, and can be carried over outdoors during the summer, eventually growing to be large shrubby plants, although tender and susceptible to freezing. They will bloom in subsequent winters if protected from frost and sheltered from electric lights after sunset throughout the autumn. This will cause flower buds to set and continue the annual blooming cycle.

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