National Poinsettia Day is Wednesday, December 12 and Coast to Coast is here to help you celebrate the iconic red holiday plant that has become an unmistakable symbol of the season.
At first glance, it’s easy to admire the pretty Poinsettia and its bright crimson and green foliage but digging a little deeper into why the Poinsettia became such an important holiday symbol brings a much deeper appreciation for this phenomenal plant.
According to a Mexican legend, a poor child who could not afford a gift for Christ on Christmas Eve was told that even the most humble gift, if given with love, would suffice in God’s eyes. The child carefully picked some weeds from the side of a road and brought them to church as an offering to make God happy. As soon as the child entered the church, the weeds bloomed into beautiful red and green flowers and the congregation was sure they had witnessed a Christmas miracle. From that day on, Poinsettias were known as ‘Flores de Noche Buena,’ or ‘Flowers of the Holy Night.’
In the United States, we typically associate the poinsettia with Christmas so dedicating December 12 as National Poinsettia Day seems like a natural fit – except the timing of the observance is merely a coincidence. In fact, the United States has observed this official day since the mid-1800s in honor of the passing of the first American ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, and the plant he introduced to the U.S.
In 1828, Poinsett discovered the plant with vivid red leaves by the side of a road in Mexico and sent some cuttings home to his residence in South Carolina. Initially, many botanists dismissed the Poinsettia as a weed, but Poinsett’s work with the plant caused it to eventually gain acceptance as a holiday plant.
The holiday season is always a special time in the floral industry, and the star of the show is, of course, the venerable Poinsettia plant. According to the US Department of Agriculture, Poinsettias are the highest selling potted flowering plant in America and account for nearly one-quarter of sales of all flowering potted plants throughout the entire year.
Here are some things you might not have known about the Poinsettia:
- Poinsettias are native to southern Mexico and have been used in religious ceremonies and to decorate churches there for centuries as the red color is a symbol of purity.
- Contrary to popular belief, Poinsettias are not poisonous to people or pets, although the plant has been known to cause stomach irritation and discomfort if ingested. The danger to pets and children comes from the choking hazard of the fibrous parts of the plant and not the toxicity.
- Although every state in the U.S. grows Poinsettias commercially; for much of the past 100 years, the Ecke Ranch in California has grown over 70% of all Poinsettias purchased in the United States and accounted for about 50% of the Poinsettias sold worldwide.
- The word Poinsettia is traditionally capitalized because it was named after a person.
The Poinsettia had its own college football bowl game. The Poinsettia Bowl debuted in San Diego in 1952 and originally served as the military services championship game for four years before being resurrected from 2005 to 2016.
- In the wild, Poinsettias have been known to grow over 12 feet tall.
- Roughly three-quarters of all Poinsettias sold in the United States are red, but they also appear in white, pink, salmon, apricot, yellow and multi-colored marbled or speckled varieties. Overall, there are more than 100 known Poinsettia varieties with new ones appearing every year.
Coast to Coast is your one-stop-shop for the holidays! From Poinsettias to holiday flowers and gifts, we can help you deck the halls and find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Stop by or give us a call today and be sure to check out the holiday section of our website here.