You may not have known this, but the Aztecs used Poinsettias to produce red dye and as a medication. In the Aztec language, the plant means, “flower that grows in residues.” Called the Christmas Eve Flower in Mexico and Guatemala, although in Spain it is known as an Easter flower.
In 16th-century Mexico, the legend is that a girl was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. She was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Suddenly, the weeds miraculously became beautiful poinsettia flowers. After that, Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas traditions.
They say the star-shaped leaf pattern is said to represent the Star of Bethlehem and the red color represents Jesus’ blood sacrifice.
When Albert Ecke came to America from Germany, he opened a dairy and orchard in in the Los Angeles area. He sold them from street stands. His son, Paul Ecke developed the grafting technique. Through marketing, Albert’s grandson, Paul, Jr. strengthened the association between Christmas and poinsettias. One of the things he would do is send the plant to television stations for them to display on air between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Appearing on TV series such as The Tonight Show and Bob Hope’s Christmas specials was also a key part of the promotion efforts.
The beautiful Christmas plant comes in more than simple shades of red, now you can find it in shades between creamy white and red, a including pink and orange. There are also multi-colored marbled and speckled varieties.
Poinsettias look great by themselves or can be part of an arrangement with other greens and flowers.
If you have not picked up your holiday poinsettia yet, there’s still time. Watters Garden Center has lots to choose from and they have even provided a 50% off coupon for our readers.