Imagine: In this world where you can buy strawberries in the supermarkets all year round, and purchase roses or mums for an occasion no matter what the calendar says, it’s refreshing to have a plant that only appears at a certain time of year. Plants that are seasonal are valued because they aren’t constantly available. And fortunately there is just such a plant that brings bright, lush colors into your house at the time of year when we need living color the most. And this traditional, seasonal plant isn’t very expensive! A Christmas cliché? I think not!
Name: Euphorbia pulcherrima aka the Poinsettia
Type of Plant: In Mexico, where this plant originates, this Euphorbia is a large shrub or small tree. But in most parts of the US this is a house plant and a holiday plant that grows in pots.
Why I love this: Bright colors….lush, full plants, and many sizes available. All of this makes the Poinsettia a plant that offers many creative possibilities. Tuck them in and among your other green houseplants for a burst of color through the winter. Fill a windowbox or metal trough with Poinsettias and place it in an empty window. Plant this Euphorbia in a larger pot or basket with variegated ivy spilling over the edges.
A Word to the Wise: First of all, enjoy this as a seasonal plant that you don’t necessarily have to keep from year to year. Appreciate the fact that professional growers know how to produce abundant plants so that you don’t have to jump through the hoops necessary to do so. Secondly, know that the color on these plants lasts longest when they are placed in bright light. And finally, make sure the plant isn’t wrapped in a foil or other decorative cover that holds the water that runs out of the drainage holes. Water this plant well when the soil starts to dry so that the roots are fully saturated. Let the excess run into a saucer or other receptacle, and after a couple of hours empty that saucer so that the roots aren’t kept too wet.
You know how the saying is that clichés become clichés because they’re true? Well plants often become commonplace because they are so perfect for the time and place where they are grown. Euphorbia pulcherrima, the ubiquitous Christmas Poinsettia, may be the cliché of holiday plants but it is for good reason. Look at this plant with new eyes and see how true it is for what we want and need in the darkest month of the year.