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Poinsettias - Christmas Tradition

By Karen England

Encinitas is known as “the flower Capital of the world” & the Poinsettia, through its premier hybridizer “The Paul Ecke Ranch”, is the flower capital’s crown jewel. According to Jose Antonio Burciaga, the modern history of the poinsettia is that “…Joel Robert Poinsett was appointed as ambassador to Mexico. On Christmas day 1825, Ambassador Poinsett visited the Taxco church in Santa Prisca, where the Franciscans had adorned the nativity scene with exotic red flowers that gave it a very elegant and uncommon appearance. Enamored of the flowers named Nochebuena (Flower of the Blessed Night), he shipped some to his friends back home in Charleston, South Carolina. This was the origin of naming these flowers poinsettias in this century.” 

In 1923, “The Paul Ecke Ranch” moved from its Los Angeles beginnings to it present location here in Encinitas and concentrated on growing a poinsettia cultivar as a indoor potted plant and through outstanding growing practices has become, according to Kim Cameron in Flower & Garden Magazine, Nov.1999, “the acknowledged leader in Floriculture today”. Over the years the Ecke poinsettias have decorated the sets of television shows such as “The Tonight Show” and “Good Morning America”, causing people around the nation to want the plants they saw each day on their TV’s. As a result demand for Ecke Poinsettia has skyrocketed worldwide. Besides the traditional red poinsettia, one can own poinsettias that are pink, plum, white, speckled, marbled, wrinkled, etc…

Just like bougainvilleas, the color of the poinsettia is actually the bract (modified leaves) and not the flower. The flower is really a non descript yellow “cymatium” in the center. Care for your poinsettia plants by giving them good indirect light, and keep evenly moist. If they dry out they will drop their leaves and perish, but if maintained properly, poinsettias can keep their colorful bracts long after the little yellow flowers are gone. One year, my Mother had a poinsettia keep its color a full six months after Christmas indoors. I do not recommend trying to get a poinsettia to rebloom and set new bracts for the following year. It requires too much work.

Karen England is the "Queen of Edgehill Herb Farm". www.edgehillherbfarm.com.

 

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