Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Poinsettia Postulate: Part 1

The first poinsettia plant that I ever owned was a huge, bushy beauty full of creamy, white flowers contrasted by dark foliage.  As a custodian at the college I attended, I was allowed to take the plant back to our apartment at the end of the fall term.  Any poinsettias that remained unspoken for would be tossed in the dumpster.  The students had left for winter break and the chapel was being cleaned and prepped for the winter term in January.

The plant was already losing leaves by the time I got it settled in the apartment.  I watered it and enjoyed the holiday spirit that it brought to our tiny living room.  In late December, my husband and I moved to Michigan to begin our post-college life.  The poinsettia was packed up in the back of our Ford Probe with the rest of the houseplants.  The move was difficult for all the plants, but the poinsettia seemed to suffer the most.  By the beginning of January it was nearly bare of all its leaves and flowers.  I eventually put it in the trash not knowing or understanding the way of the poinsettia.

Years later, I learned that poinsettias normally lose their foliage during the winter and then grow more to replace it.  The next poinsettia I received was a gift from a neighbor at Christmas '10.  It was a cute little number with pink flowers that had been glittered for extra pizzaz.  After the holidays, I moved it to my desk which sits beneath a southeast facing window.  I continued to water and care for the plant throughout the winter and spring, proud of the new growth that was appearing.  Our houseplants traditionally spend the summer out of doors in a shady spot along the front walk.  So, naturally, the poinsettia joined the rest of the houseplants.  I am still uncertain whether it was the heat and dryness of the summer or fact that it was outdoors at all, but the plant was dead by the end of summer.  Definately dead this time, not just changing foliage.

This past holiday season I picked up a deep red poinsettia on clearance at Walmart a couple of weeks before Christmas.  I also adopted an ailing pink poinsettia from my mother-in-law post-holiday. The plants have spent the past seven and a half months enjoying the light from the window above my desk.  After losing their colorful bracts and most of their leaves they have filled out again nicely.  I pruned them once in the spring and will do so again this weekend to help their shape.  I also hope to propagate some of the clippings to have more plants play with or gift to others.  The poinsettias with begin their "dark therapy" on October 1st where they will receive at least 14 hours of complete, uninterrupted darkness every night until their color returns.  I will give another update once their night therapy has commenced.


  1. Did you know poinsettias can grow as big as trees? When we lived in Africa they were huge trees, not just little plants like we have here! You could grow your plants to be trees! :) --Jeni

  2. No way! That is so cool. Do they have colorful blooms like the houseplants as well?