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History of The Christmas Poinsettia

Updated on January 13, 2013

Who could imagine the month of December without Poinsettias displayed in every nursery, store, or home. The Poinsettia plant has become a trademark during Christmas time, but this wasn’t always the case.

A Central America native plant, The Poinsettia was introduced to this country by Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico in the 1800’s.

Besides his political work, he was a dedicated botanical enthusiast. In 1828 while visiting Mexico, he discovered a Poinsettia plant with vibrant colored leaves growing in the wild. He immediately sent cutting to his home’s greenhouse in South Carolina, and to friends and botanical gardens in the U.S. It took some time to become a popular plant, but by the 20th century the Poinsettia was a Christmas time staple.

While in the U.S. most of the Poinsettias we see are in small pots, in Central America they grow as tall shrubs or small trees, reaching heights up to 16ft. If you live in warmer climate, you do not have to discard of your beautiful Poinsettia after the Holidays. You may keep it in a pot and take it outside or plant it in the ground and watch it grow.

Four year old red Poinsettia
Four year old red Poinsettia | Source

I have a Poinsettia that is about 4 years old; it is in a pot, but already has signs of wanting to become a small tree. The stems have hardened like branches and the leaves are mostly at the top of the plant. Although it looks beautiful on my patio, I think I will plant it in the garden this spring after the flowers subside.

Poinsettias are not only cheerful reminders that Christmas time is approaching. They are beautiful plants that with the appropriate care can be grown and enjoyed all year long.


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      Oripoto2013 5 years ago

      Laura, I like your article about ponsettias. I love Christmas Holidays hence my preference for those plants. A new poinsettia is added to my garden every year after christmas.