What Do Poinsettias Represent?
While their bright colors are a perfect match for the holiday season, they also have specific Christmas symbolism. For some, the star-shaped pattern of the leaves represents the Star of Bethlehem in the Biblical Christmas story. The tradition of giving them for Christmas is often traced to a Mexican legend about a young girl who couldn't afford flowers to leave at church for the baby Jesus. Instead, she brought green plants, which turned bright red when she placed them at the base of the nativity scene. Called "Flores de Noche Buena" (Flowers of the Holy Night) in Mexico, they represent humility, hope, and the spirit of generosity.
Are Poinsettias Flowers?
Poinsettias look like bright red flowers emerging in a starburst pattern from a bed of dark green leaves, but they are actually colorful shrubs. Their thick, bright red petals fanning out above a base of dense green foliage are colored leaves called bracts. Poinsettias have the longevity and freshness of a houseplant with all the color and energy of fresh flowers. The traditionally red leaves can also be found in other variations, including white, cream, and orange. Try alternating red and white poinsettia baskets for a bright and elegant holiday display.
What to do with Poinsettias after Christmas?
While poinsettias are particularly popular for the holidays, they are also hardy plants that can last year-round and, if cared for properly, even bloom again for the following Christmas. Simply begin to cut the stems back around March, trimming within 4 to 6 inches of the soil. You can also re-pot it to allow more room to grow. Once you see new growth, give it plenty of sunshine. Near the end of May, or when temperatures begin to increase in your area, you can plant your poinsettia outdoors. Just be sure to harden the plant first by placing it outdoors for 7 to 10 days before planting it in the ground. Around mid-September, or when temperatures begin to drop, you'll want to bring it back indoors.
To ensure a new bloom in time for Christmas, place your plant in the sun from around 8 a.m. until 5 pm, and then put it in complete darkness from 5 p.m. until the following morning. You can move it to a dark room or place a box over the plant. This practice should begin in early October until early December to help promote blooming in time for the holidays. Poinsettias are native to Mexico, so if you live in a warmer climate with a hardy zone of 10 to 12, you may choose to completely transfer your poinsettia plant outdoors and watch it grow up 10 feet tall!
Red and Green Poinsettia Centerpieces Help Ring in the Holidays
Poinsettia centerpieces are great for Christmas dinners and holiday gatherings. Their festive red-on-green color scheme has traditionally been associated with Christmas. However, it's not uncommon to see these colorful plants popping up after Thanksgiving. While they're often used as decorations in churches or nursing homes, they also go well on a porch or front steps to greet visitors. Display them in a shop window, throughout a workspace, or in the entryway of your home to help usher in the holiday spirit.
Giving a Poinsettia as a Christmas Gift
Poinsettia gift baskets are a cheerful and convenient way to brighten someone's day with a little holiday cheer. These sturdy plants typically have no smell and stay fresh for much longer than cut flowers, so the recipient can enjoy them throughout the holidays. Poinsettias should last through December with occasional watering. You may also lightly mist the leaves if you notice them wilting. Because they're potted plants and not harvested flowers, those willing to do a little gardening can keep them beyond the holiday season and see them re-bloom the following year.
How to Take Care of Poinsettias
To keep them fresh, position them near a window or in an area with lots of natural light throughout the day. East-facing windows are a great option because of the early morning light. Keeping the temperature between 65 and 75 degrees will also help simulate the warmer environments in which Poinsettias grow naturally.
You can water them whenever the soil feels dry, or if you notice the leaves getting wilted. Your watering schedule will probably vary depending on how humid or dry your home or office is. However, always remember to provide some room for drainage under and around your poinsettia pot so that the plant's roots aren't sitting in water. If you plan to re-bloom it, you'll need to start cutting back on the water and sunlight in April to prepare it for an altered care schedule through the summer months. For more information, read our poinsettia care guide.
Poinsettia Delivery Just in Time for the Holidays
FTD makes it easy to order poinsettias for delivery online and have them delivered straight to your door or to the address of your choice completely hassle-free. We offer a variety of holiday gift baskets and flower arrangements perfect for reminding long-distance loved ones how much they're in your thoughts. Schedule your delivery to your friends and loved ones just in time to ring in the holiday season!
Shop all Christmas floral and plant options at FTD!
Poinsettias may be one of the most iconic Christmas plants, but there is a large variety of Christmas plants and Christmas flowers you can send to loved ones this holiday season. At FTD, we also have a wide selection of Christmas wreaths to adorn your doors, and beautiful Christmas floral centerpieces to bring your dining table to life. Shop all Christmas options at FTD to find the perfect gifts for your holiday season.