by Michael RichComment — Updated August 5, 2023

I just love poinsettias at Christmas. Although I confess I feel a bit guilty when choosing one. They don’t tend to be long-lived in my house.

“Okay little poinsettias, who wants to die young?”

The poor dear leaves dry and curl. Down, down and then plop on the floor.

I usually allow this to continue for far too long. I should just stop watering the thing. Sort of a plant – Do Not Resusitate. And who knows how much water is right anyway. Well-meaning friends will say I gave it too much while others say too little.

Throwing it in the appropriate recycling for plant material garbage can seems so cruel. Enviromentally correct, but somehow mean-spirited.

I’ve even wondered if giving it herb supplements will work. According to what I read, they cure everything. Do you think Gingko Biloba works on poinsettias? Course, if I give it to the plant instead of me, how will I remember?

This year I hope to improve my odds. I’ve got the Internet for poinsettia info. Did you know there was a real guy named Poinset? Found some lovely little legends too.

But the most important part, The Care and Feeding of Poinsettias:

The Paul Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, California, one of the world’s largest breeders of poinsettias, offers the following tips on the care of your Christmas plants: Put them in a southeast or southwest window that receives at least six hours of sunlight a day. Maintain a daytime temperature that doesn’t exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a nighttime temperature of 60 to 65 degrees. Water thoroughly when the soil surface feels dry to the touch. If the water barely seeps out of the bottom of the pot, it is enough; if water accumulates in the saucer, it’s too much. Always dump out any excess water.


A British-educated plantation owner and botanist named Joel Roberts Poinsett gave his name and a flying start to poinsettias in the U.S. During his tenure as United States ambassador to Mexico from 1825 to 1829, he took a shine to these colorful plants and brought cuttings back to his Greenville, South Carolina, home. He grew and propagated them in his greenhouse, distributing plants to his horticultural friends. Ultimately, botanists assigned poinsettias to the genus Euphorbia. But hey, after you’ve learned “Poinsettia” who’s gonna memorize “Euphorbia.”


A child knelt before the altar at his village’s church on Christmas Eve. Since he had no money, he had no gift to offer to the Christ Child on his birthday. His prayers were sincere though, and through a miracle the first “Flower of the Holy Night” bloomed at his feet in bright red and green homage to the holy birth. This was the birth of the Poinsettia.


Known by its beautiful Spanish name of flor de nochebuena, “flower of Christmas Eve,” the poinsettia is indigenous to Central America and tropical Mexico. The story goes that a poor Mexican child on her way to church on Christmas Eve wept because she had no gift to place before the altar of the Virgin and Child. Through her tears, an angel suddenly appeared and instructed her to gather weeds from the roadside. When the child arrived at the altar with her wilted offering, starry crimson “blossoms” burst forth from every stem.

Christmas Main Page

©2010-2015. Michael Rich.

Leave a Comment