Plant history - Pointsettias

Poinsettia Day

December 12, 2020

There are a lot of tell-tale signs when a specific holiday is upon us. Pumpkins are displayed everywhere once Halloween Season arrives. Likewise, you will notice that the Christmas season is right around the corner as you can see people putting up colorful Christmas lights and decors on their yards. One of the tell-tale signs of Christmas that can easily be recognized is the abundance of Poinsettias. 

Poinsettias are as much a symbol for Christmas as pumpkins are for Halloween that it has its day of celebration. The United States and Mexico celebrate the National Poinsettia Day every December 12. But have you often wondered how Poinsettias came to be a staple symbol for Christmas?  

The History of Poinsettia Day 

There are two stories why the US and Mexico celebrate a day for the Poinsettia. In the US, the National Poinsettia Day is a day to honor Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was the first American Ambassador that was assigned to Mexico. During his stay in Mexico, Poinsett, who is also an avid botanist, noticed the red flowers with green leaves by a hill. In 1828, Poinsett sent cuttings of this plant to his home in Charleston, South Carolina, where the plants grew well. Poinsett was honored for bringing this spectacular flower into the US soil by naming the flower “Poinsettia”. In the US, the National Poinsettia Day is celebrated with parades with floats adorned with Poinsettias. 

In Mexico, The National Poinsettia Day is also celebrated on December 12. However, Poinsettias in Mexico are celebrated more to honor a legend that tells the story of a poor and despondent girl searching to give a gift for the baby Jesus. In the legend, an angel appears to the child to inform her that the most important gift is one that is given with love. With this in heart, the girl gathered weeds found by the side of the road and placed them beside the manger of baby Jesus. The weeds miraculously bloomed into the spectacular red star-shaped flowers that the world knows as Poinsettias. In Mexico, Poinsettia Day is known as “La Flor de la Noche Buena,” which is translated as Flower of the Holy Night. In Mexico, the National Poinsettia Day is celebrated by displaying the flowers during the Dia de la Virgen or Day of the Virgin on December 12. 

Once Used for Medicinal Benefits

Poinsettia belongs to the Euphorbiaceae (spurge) family, which includes more than 1,000 herbs, shrubs, and trees. Many members of this family, including poinsettia, are characterized by the presence of a milky latex emulsion found in the lactiferous vessels. When damaged, the plants secrete this latex.

Historically it’s sap has been used as a depilatory agent, and extracts of the plant were used traditionally as an antipyretic to reduce fever and to stimulate lactation. Poinsettia has also been used as a natural remedy for warts and toothaches.  Today there is no clinical data that supports any of these claims. The plant is now primarily used for decorative purposes.

Care of the Poinsettia Plant

If you have Poinsettias in your home, you can honor them by knowing their proper care. 


Poinsettias are used to getting a fair amount of sunlight, so it is recommended that you place them by a window that will get a lot of sunlight. It is best to place them on east-facing windows so that they can get the morning sunlight. However, when placing them near windows, make sure that the flowers do not touch the windowpanes since this may cause flower harm. 


It is best to water your Poinsettias whenever the soil feels dry. Do not let too much water sit in the pot as it may cause the roots to rot. If you keep your Poinsettias indoors, it is best to keep them in warm temperatures between 65- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit and do not let the temperatures change dramatically. 

With proper care, your Poinsettias may bloom even after the Christmas holidays.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.