Poinsettia: the language of flowers and plants



Euphorbia pulcherrima




The poinsettia, for many years now, has traditionally adorned our homes during the Christmas period and has become a symbol of rebirth with its bright red color.

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Cultivation of the poinsettia

Christmas Star

The poinsettia is native to Mexico. The scientific name is Euphorbia pulcherrima,someone even calls her Poinsettia (rarely Poinsezia) is the Christmas tree par excellence: always intensely colored, capable of attracting attention and creating a Christmas atmosphere on its own.

This plant is grown not so much for the green of the leaves or for the small and insignificant flowers, but for the beautiful chromatic effect (mainly red, but also pink and white) of the bracts, or the transformed leaves, that surround the flowers.

The poinsettia belongs to the Euphorbiacee family, the genus includes more than 1500 species, including Euphorbia pulcherrima, native to Mexico. It is a shrubby plant that, in certain climates, can reach up to 3 meters in height, the leaves are deep green, velvety, and have a rather strange shape, oval but with large festoons.

Meaning of flowers: the poinsettia, why is it given at Christmas?

What will be the meaning which nestles behind the petals of the Christmas Star? And why is the flower to give as a gift to wish a Merry Christmas?

There Christmas Star it was already cultivated by Indios and Aztecs for which it was a flower symbol of purity whose intense red color recalled the drops of blood of a goddess who died for love.

But another is the most famous Mexican legend that surrounds the plant: it is said that many centuries ago, during the night of Christmas, in church, a very poor little girl wanted to show Jesus her love, but she did not have the means to do so. A voice, however, suggested that she go out and collect a bundle of brushwood and herbs which, deposited on the alter, turned into wonderful red stars.

The love that hides behind this legend continues to envelop the flower in various declinations so much so that in France takes the name of Étoile d’amour (Star of Love) and is marketed for Mother's Day, while in Central America it takes the name of Hoja encendida (Fiery Leaf) and symbolizes passion.

Popularity in Italy it arrived only two centuries ago, when it was used to adorn the Basilica of Saint Peter, but now according to official data, every year, about 20,000,000 copies are sold!

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

Euphorbia pulcherrima, also called Christmas Star, is a perennial tropical plant, usually grown as an annual, with stems up to 2 m long and a maximum diameter of 2.5 m, fast-growing medium leaves, lobed bracts (colored leaves) red, white, yellow, pink, smooth or curled, even double.
In 1804 the plant reached Europe for the first time, thanks to the naturalist scientist Alexander von Humboldt. It was called with the botanical name Euphorbia pulcherrima: the most beautiful of the Euphorbiacee. Today it is also known as Poinsettia.

It remains beautiful for a long time and, if in suitable conditions, it can flourish again the following year. After purchase, it may be useful to repot the plant in a container slightly wider and deeper than the previous one, in any case it must be repotted after the holidays.
Use a high-quality universal soil or soil for flowering plants.
Never use soil from other crops.

It requires very little attention, also recommended for those who have no experience in plant care.
Leaves that turn yellow should be removed. In early spring it should be pruned to encourage the release of green leaves.
Clean the foliage from dust with a soft brush, without rubbing it. Always wear gardening gloves: the latex released by leaves and branches can be annoying on the skin.
It requires moderate watering, for the sole purpose of moistening the soil which must never be completely dry.
The water must be at room temperature (never too cold). Empty the saucer of unabsorbed water after 15 minutes.
It is useful to spray water on the leaves, even every day if possible.
The poinsettia has a moderate nutritional requirement and must be fertilized every 10-12 days in the period in which it has colored leaves. Never exceed the dose of fertilizer: better a little than too much.
Before fertilizing it is good to moisten the soil.

Easy to hybridize and cross, every year the star is offered in new versions: in addition to red in all shades there are pink, yellow, green, orange, mottled, double-flowered, curled-petal stars ... an artificial coloring, they are less durable.
The "flower", formed by the bracts (colored leaves), is available in many colors and lasts a very long time. It can bloom again the following year and in summer it is beautiful even without flowers, thanks to its splendid foliage.

He wants a high level of brightness, without direct sunlight. In summer, it lives well outdoors, in the shade and sheltered from the wind. It requires temperatures of 18-20 ° C (minimum 15 ° C) in summer it does not fear heat and heat, if it is in the shade.
It should not be placed near windows or doors that are often opened in winter, nor near radiators or other heat sources.

It is also possible to cultivate the star with other green or flowering plants, in beautiful Christmas compositions.

Problems and remedies:

  • The leaves fall: the environment is too hot, too dark and too dry. Find a brighter position and increase the humidity.
  • The leaves curl: this symptom also signals the need to increase humidity and spray water on the foliage.
  • Last year's plant has leaves but does not bloom: the light-dark rhythm is not correct. Without 14 hours of darkness followed by intense light in a cool environment, the biological rhythms of the plant do not allow the activation of foliar pigmentation.

  • It is a splendid sign of good wishes, thanks to the beautiful colored leaves and its important symbolic meaning of happiness.
  • The name Poinsettia is derived from Joel Poinsett, US ambassador to Mexico, who first imported Euphorbia pulcherrima plants to the US in 1825.
  • For the Aztecs it was a sacred plant, also used to obtain a red dye and for traditional medicine.
  • In the language of flowers it is a symbol of love and joy in Mexico it is also a symbol of femininity and motherhood.

Christmas and the language of flowers

The Christmas it is, of course, one of the most popular holidays of the year.

Christmas and the language of flowers

We tend to celebrate it together and to bring gifts to loved ones, or to the guests who receive us in their own home. Let's see together what to give on this particular day, using the language of flowers and their beauty.

Although the choice of some types of plants can be taken for granted, we must not forget that regardless of the use we traditionally make of it, every single one Christmas plant it has a history and a tradition. So let's start from the minimum basics. If you pass the Christmas with the person of the heart and his family, the choice will have to fall on two types of floral tribute different.

For your sweetheart, in a flashy way with a bouquet, or playfully with a sprig, you have to bet on mistletoe. What better occasion to pamper and let yourself be pampered than with the excuse of classic kiss how Christmas tradition wants? Not to mention that in the language of flowers owns the ability to express a wish for well-being in love relationships.

For the family, on the other hand, a poinsettia will not only be a scenically perfect gift (pay attention to the quality and price for theeuphorbia but at the same time it will be a lucky charm appreciated by all). If it seems too obvious a choice, you can without any problem set aside euphorbia pulcherrima or another colorful poinsettia. There are several hybrids that have come down to us, and if you know where to look, you are really spoiled for choice.

You can also focus on the holly, aware, however, of the fact that although it symbolizes eternity, while being a symbol of Christmas is a plant that indica aggression: be sure to give it away with a nice sweet typical of the party, will sweeten anyone ... and its hidden meaning, if known, will be forgotten.

Christmas star, how to make it bloom again

The biggest mistake is to consider the plant now dead between January and February, when the bracts begin to fall. It is actually a natural passage the life cycle of the plant. Just follow a few tricks to see it flourish again the following winter.

Pruning of the plant

First of all ask your local florist, since the result of the do-it-yourself is never guaranteed and especially if you have never done it before. If you still want to try your hand, here is a method to make the poinsettia bloom again independently and the precautions to be taken.

When the plant begins to lose its red bracts, decrease the waterings until i branches they will not be completely bare (generally at the end of February). Once the bracts have fallen off, cut the stems to a height of 10 cm about from the ground. Use a well-sharpened blade and avoid scissors as they could irreparably damage the plant. During the procedure, wear gloves so as not to come into contact with the stinging latex and keep animals and children away.

After pruning, place the vase in the dark for fourteen hours a day, up to early May. Repot the poinsettia with new soft soil and take the pot outdoors, while keeping the plant in the shade. Resume watering for the whole summer.

In October, bring the poinsettia back to the house and find a bright position for it to accompany the development of the bracts. At this point the plant should bloom again and give you a new Christmas in his company.

Video: Poinsettias for Kids

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