The Poinsettia plant, more commonly known as the “Christmas Star”, is the flagship plant of the holiday season. With its beautiful, recognisable red leaves, it is a must for successful festive decoration.
But do you know the history of this plant that comes straight from Central America? And above all, how can you make this plant bloom again, as it often dies after the holidays?
Here are a few things you need to know to shine at your festive meals.
Why is it called the “Christmas Star” plant ?
Many people think that it is because of the red colour of its leaves, a colour representative of Christmas, combined with the green of its stems. However, the Poinsettia plant also exists in other colours. There are white, orange and pink ones.
The name simply comes from the fact that this plant blossoms around Christmas.
A tropical plant
The Christmas Star is a plant, not a flower. Its leaves, called bracts, surround a yellow flower in the middle.
It comes directly from Central America, more precisely from Mexico where it is called “Flores de Noche Buena” (Flowers of the Holy Night). It was in the 19th century that the plant arrived in the United States, thanks to the American ambassador to Mexico, Joel R. POINSETT, who sent some cuttings to his family in the United States. A few years later, the plant was renamed “Poinsettia” in his honour.
Since then, the plant has become famous on the other side of the Atlantic and is grown in greenhouses in a variety of colours.
A plant that has to play hide and seek with the sun
If you’ve ever kept your Christmas Star after the holidays, you’ll have noticed that its leaves fall and then grow back green, but never turn red again!
Why is that? The reason is simple. This plant, which is tropical, cannot stand the cold and must not be exposed to too much light during the flowering period. There are therefore a number of rules to follow to keep it alive!
A few tips:
Once the holidays are over, keep the plant in a room that is not too warm and water it regularly (Be careful not to use cold water, as this could kill it!).
Once spring has passed, water it less and less every day, and stop completely once the leaves have fallen (from March). After the soil has dried out for a month, cut the stems and start watering again. During the summer months you can even place the plant outside (max. 25 degrees).
Then, from September onwards and to make its leaves turn red in time for Christmas, you must limit its exposure to light, as in its natural habitat which has shorter days. The plant should be lit only by natural light, with a long period in the dark (at least 14 hours a day). You can put the plant in a dark room during this period.
With a bit of luck (and work!) you will have a beautiful new red plant for Christmas!
You can find these plants at all nurseries, florists and even in your supermarkets.