For years, we’ve given and received poinsettias in gestures of kindness during the Christmas season. They’re just so fittingly festive, with their mix of red and green leaves. What’s more, they’re relatively inexpensive and thoughtful at the same time. Did you ever wonder where that custom came from?
What is the meaning of poinsettias? Also known as the Christmas Star and Christmas Flower, it’s said that poinsettias’ association with Christmas comes from a Mexican legend.
The story goes that there was once a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked to the chapel, sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up.
‘Pepita’, he said “I’m sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus Happy.”
Pepita didn’t know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene.
Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the ‘Flores de Noche Buena’, or ‘Flowers of the Holy Night’.
The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red color reminds us of Christ’s Blood, shed for our salvation. Some poinsettias have white leaves, which remind us of Christ’s purity. Green symbolizes life and hope.
The Poinsettia is also the national emblem of Madagascar.
Poinsettias are native to Central America, and were used by the Aztecs in a number of ways, to dye clothes, make cosmetics, and create medicine to cure fevers. The plant was discovered in 1828 by John Poinsett, US Ambassador to Mexico. He sent some Poinsettia plants back to South Carolina and began to grow them, thus the name- Poinsettia.
Poinsettias need warmth and light and must be kept away from draughts. That means they must be kept away from fireplaces, doorways, open windows, and breezy hallways. Poinsettia care begins with proper light, water, and temperature conditions.
Poinsettias should be watered regularly and kept evenly moist. Never let plants sit in water; always empty their saucers or planters shortly after watering.
Also, relocate the poinsettia plant to a cool, dark area until spring or around April.
Poinsettia Plant Leaves Are Falling Off
It’s important to pinpoint the possible cause in the event that your poinsettia plant leaves are falling off, as in some cases, this can be easily fixed. Environmental factors such as warm, dry conditions are most often the reason for leaf drop. Stress can also be a factor.
Keep the plant in a cool, draft-free area and provide plenty of water. If all else fails, the plant may need to be discarded. Now that you know how do you take care of poinsettias you can keep these lovely plants year round. With proper poinsettia plant care, they will give you many years of beauty.
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