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Poinsettia Flower: Everything you Need to Know

What flower comes to your mind when you think of Christmas? Poinsettias, right? 

Poinsettia flower has been Christmas staples for years and years now. They symbolize the Christmas season as their red and green color exactly fits with Christmas hues. 

Generally, Poinsettia flowers from autumn to winter can last for around six weeks. Under the right conditions, they can bloom both indoors and outdoors. The flowers are yellow with an ovate shape around 3 cm in diameter, giving off a pine-like terpenic scent.

bunch of multi-colored poinsettias
Multi-colored Poinsettias (Source: Flickr)

Poinsettia’s bracts or leaves come in shades from bright red to creamy pink, often mistaken for flower petals. 

Read further below to know everything about the actual inconspicuous Poinsettia flower. 

How Often does the Poinsettia Flower?

Poinsettias are unusual flowers as the leaves surrounding the central cluster of tiny yellow blossoms resembling petals are plant leaves.

In the northern hemisphere, the natural flowering season of Poinsettias flower occurs in autumn and winter. 

structure of poinsettia
Poinsettia flower structure(Source: iNaturalist)

The blooms of a Poinsettia have no petals and are an inflorescence, consisting of a single female flower surrounded by several male flowers.

These floral arrangements are known as cyathia. Typically, in a single plant, about 20-22 cyathia(flowers) are present when the plant is in full bloom.

As long as the day length is not altered artificially, you will see the flower in about seven to ten weeks after the floral initiation.

The flower development continues after floral initiation until the opening of the flower bud.

Furthermore, it is possible to make Poinsettias rebloom, but you will have to take care of it all year round, which is not easy.

If you take proper care of your Poinsettia, the bloom will last for about 4 to 6 weeks, and the flowers will start to fall off.

Poinsettia Flower Overview

Poinsettia is native to Mexico, belongs to the Euphorbiaceae, the spurge family, and goes by the name Euphorbia Pulcherrima. 

Basically, all of the flowers belonging to this family are held in clusters called cyathia.

Let us see the overview of the actual flower or cyathia of Poinsettia in the table below:

IndicatorIdentity
Structurecup-like structure with bracts
ShapeOvate
SizeAbout 2.5-3 cm in diameter
ColorYellow
Flower TypePerennial
SmellPine-like terpenic scent
Blooming SeasonAutumn/Winter
ToxicityToxic to Humans and Pets

Pollination of Poinsettia Flower

Since Poinsettia is a monoecious plant, the male and female reproductive systems are found on the same plant.

In the Poinsettia flower, a single pistillate, which houses the ovary and egg, is surrounded by five stamens, which release sperm and pollen to create a full bloom or cyathium.

closeup of cyathia of poinsettia
Cyathium of Poinsettia (Source: Unsplash)

The female flower typically sits on the stalk, pushing the pistillate up and out of the cyathium so it can be pollinated.

Hence, Poinsettias can cross-pollinate with other Poinsettias or self-pollinate as they have both male and female components.

These structures might be confusing at first, but they are incredibly simple, most notably in the absence of the petals that flowers typically have.

If your poinsettias are outdoors, insects may naturally pollinate them. The colorful bracts of the plant help to attract insects to the flowers.

Follow the instructions if you have indoor poinsettias and wish to handle the pollination manually.

butterflies on poinsettia flowers
Poinsettia pollination(Source: Pxhere)
  • Grab a cotton swab or a paintbrush
  • Clean the brush with 70% rubbing alcohol.
  • Brush the cotton swab gently from flower to flower to collect the pollen around
  • Then gently rub the brush on the female flower and wait for a few days.
  • When the Poinsettia flower pollinates, the colorful bracts will drop eventually.

How to Make a Poinsettia Plant Flower?

Poinsettias initiate the production of flowers in September.

It is hard to figure out the actual date of flowering as it is affected by the different environmental conditions.

A lot of the factors matter during flowering. Let us look at each one of them briefly.

  • On cloudy days and cool nights, you can observe the flower’s early initiation as it is affected by a photoperiod of 12 hours and nighttime temperatures below 70°F. So, avoid bright direct light as it can delay the floral initiation.
  • Maintain the average temperature between 68-70°F. If the temperature goes beyond this, flowering can get delayed.
  • While using a potting mix, ensure that it contains peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite and maintain pH between 5.8-6.2.
Ph meter under plant
Checking soil with pH Meter (Source: Pixabay)
  • The Poinsettia thrives in moderate to high humidity, so maintain relative humidity between 50%-70%. You can use a humidifier to get the desired humidity level.
  • Water the plant once a week and avoid rigorous watering as the days become shorter and the quality of the light declines.
  • Before flowering, you can opt for fertilizer with a 15-0-15 or 20-10-20 NPK value. As the plant switches from vegetative growth to flowering, the need for fertilizer diminishes.

How Do You Get a Poinsettia to Rebloom?

As already said, it is not an easy task to rebloom the Poinsettias. 

If you want to rebloom your Poinsettia for next year, you need to give it constant attention all year round.

But we have a detailed monthly guide to make your job easy. 

Here are the general steps to encourage a rebloom.

  • January-March: Provide indirect sunlight for six hours a day and lightly water whenever the soil feels dry to the touch.
  • April-May: After the leaves/bract fall off, cut off all the stems to 4 to 6 inches. Cut back on watering and leave the soil to be dry. Place the plant in a cool area. The temperature should be between 60-65°F.
poinsettia plant on pot along with other indoor pot plants
Poinsettia Brings Good Luck ( Source: Unsplash)
  • May-September: Repot the plant by replacing the old soil mix. Start watering the soil and also begin fertilizing every four weeks until September. Prune new growth and allow only 2-3 leaves on each stem.
  • October- November: Cover the plant with a bag or a box for 14 hours a day for eight weeks. Continue watering and fertilizing the same way.
  • December: You will now see new buds formation. Stop fertilizing till February and continue the care.

What Should You Do with Poinsettia Plant Flowers? 

Poinsettia flowers are inconspicuous, and their main attraction is their colorful bracts or leaves; the flower is there just for pollination. 

You may remove the flowers of Poinsettia as it will help the plant to gather its energy towards developing more foliage.

poinsettia flowers
Fiery Red Poinsettia Leaves (Source: Pexels)

You can remove the tiny flowers with the use of gardening scissors. The process is no different than cutting dead leaves.

You need to be careful not to damage the rest of the plant. 

But again, if you want the flower to pollinate and the seed pods to develop, you must let it flower as it is. 

Poinsettia Flower Meaning and Symbolism

The Poinsettia plant has different meanings in different countries.

Modern customs view it as a Christmas Eve bloom that can be given and received on Christmas. However, the history of poinsettias is far older.

Let’s explore further and look at the Poinsettia’s cultural significance in different countries:

CountryMeaning
Ancient Aztec Represents peace and purity
MexicoRepresents Christmas miracle flower in Mexican stories
USARepresents the Christmas season since the red and green of the flowers and foliage wonderfully complement the festive hues.
UKChristmas flowers, and people gift Poinsettias to symbolize kindness and community spirit
Religious CommunitiesFlower Shape: the Star of Bethlehem,
Red leaves: the shed blood of Christ
TurkeyRepresents patriotic connotation and nationalism

Poinsettia flowers represent love, hope, and kindness throughout the holiday season.

Also, it is a wonderful present for individuals celebrating birthdays or remembering a loved one who passed away in December.

Health Considerations to Keep in Mind

According to ASPCA, Poinsettias are toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. When you cut a Poinsettia, it exudes a milky white substance; a latex sap.

The main toxic principle of Poinsettia is the milky sap. It contains chemicals such as diterpenoid euphorbol esters and saponin-like detergents.

Poinsettia white sap can cause allergy
Poinsettia white sap can cause allergy (Source: Wikimedia)

The fluid can be irritating and may cause dermatitis, but it is not fatal.

If your pets consume the sap, you should notice clinical symptoms, including vomiting and mouth and stomach irritation.

You can always call the following numbers to double-check. 

Where to Buy?

Want to buy a live Poinsettia plant? Check out these retailers. 

ShopsDelivery
Send FlowersSame Day Delivery
TargetWithin 3-5 business days
Sams Club1-7 business days

Conclusion

The Poinsettia flower’s vibrant, colorful bracts make up for its modest, inconspicuous bloom.

Without a Poinsettia, Christmas could be pretty hard to imagine.

So try it out and grow Poinsettias for Christmas this year.

To know about this plant’s benefits, check this article, 6 Amazing Poinsettia Benefits.

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