Host: Gary Bachman, Ornamental Horticulture Specialist
Thanksgiving was last week and this means the poinsettias are coming to herald the Christmas season today on Southern Gardening.
Traditionally, red poinsettias are the first choice of many holiday gardeners. However, the color range of poinsettia is truly remarkable. With a color palette of red to white and even maroon for Bulldog fans it can be hard to choose. There are bicolor, speckled and marbled poinsettias. And if that’s not enough some greenhouses are even changing colors by painting and adding sparkles. When shopping for poinsettias be aware of the wide variety that are available. Take your time to select the very best. Now I need to point out that the colorful “flowers” that we love so much are not flowers at all. They are actually modified leaves called bracts. The true flowers are the yellow/green bead-like structures called cyathia. And contrary to popular belief, according to the ASPCA poinsettias are not poisonous to our pets. While we enjoy poinsettias during the holidays many don’t know some of the history of this beautiful plant. Did you know the Aztecs cultivated this plant to produce dyes and a fever medication? In the 1820s John Poinsett, the Ambassador to Mexico and hobby botanist, saw these native plants with the brilliant red “flowers” naturally blooming during the Christmas season. Poinsett sent some cuttings home and became the Christmas Poinsettia we now enjoy. December 12th is celebrated as National Poinsettia Day
Until next time, I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman enjoying our Southern Gardening.