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Will The Real Poinsettia Please Stand Up

By Amanda Whatley Owen

web posted December 18, 2017
poinsettiaGARDENING – Christmas time is always a festive, joyous time of year.  It's also the time of year that many people shell out money for the number one selling plant of the year…the Poinsettia.  

The Poinsettia is a traditional holiday plant that everyone, everywhere throughout the world, is familiar with. I wanted to share a few tips on how to care for your "traditional" Poinsettia, and give you a little history lesson on how South Carolina actually plays a huge roll in this holiday plant's claim to festive fame!

The traditional Poinsettia plant that everyone goes out to purchase for their home or church each year is actually not the "real" Poinsettia!  Yep, you read that right.  The traditional Poinsettia that you are accustomed to, has been modified in laboratories by botanist to give it a more "American look", like the ones found growing naturally in South Carolina..

The plant is actually indigenous to Mexico where it is known as the Christmas Eve flower or Catarina.  It was introduced to North America in 1825 by Joel R. Poinsett of Charleston, S.C., who was the first U.S. Minister to Mexico. 

Now, the Poinsettia is native to the southeast.  To this day, from Virginia to Florida, you can still find the native Poinsettia growing in your own back yard!  Most of the time you will find it in woods, mixed with other native brush, and there are still folks who dig it up and plant this small shrub in their landscape. 

This Poinsettia gives excellent color and texture.  It makes a great natural filler for your landscape, only reaching about three feet tall and three feet wide.  The native Poinsettia is also, drought tolerate and loves sun, but not a lot of wind.  It flowers in the spring and fall.

Of course the traditional Poinsettia's care is going to vary from the native Poinsettia's care. 

The traditional Poinsettia normally does not set outside, because it is intolerant to any sort of draft.  Typically, your traditional Poinsettia enjoys the North window, full of sun, and is most comfortable at 70 degrees.  I do not suggest putting them right at doorways that are frequently opened.  This can damage the beautiful red and green foliage of this plant. 

Poinsettias are more drought tolerate than believed, but remember that the warmer it is in your home, the faster the plant can dry out.  As far as fertilizing your Poinsettia, Miracle Grow has small spikes that allow a slow release.  Follow the directions on the package for your size container.

Whitefly is the most common insect you may see on your Poinsettia but, your local garden center will have insecticidal soap, which is the most organic way to get rid of these pesky bugs without causing harm to our Yuletide friends. 

A healthy Poinsettia does have beautiful, deep green and deep red foliage.  As long as your Poinsettia maintains that deep red and green foliage with thick stems you will have a healthy Poinsettia for your Holiday season!

If you're anything like me, you can't wait to see what gardening goodies Santa may bring you.  But after Christmas, what are we going to do with this old tree?  Stop by next week, and I'll have some ideas.

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