Celebrating Poinsettia Day: 12th December

by | Dec 12, 2023 | Features, Horticulture, News, Plantaria | 0 comments

Poinsettia day

Whilst they have been prevalent for centuries across the whole of society in their native Mexico and Guatemala, poinsettia’s long association with Christmas tradition means they have tended to be favoured by an older consumer demographic across Europe. As Poinsettia Day approaches on 12th December, the experts at Stars for Europe take look at how this nostalgic festive favourite has become a modern classic.

For many people on the continent and in the UK or Ireland, poinsettias are something they might remember from the 70s, but they have once again caught the eye of fashion-focused consumers who want to put the funk back into their home interiors. Whether it’s mid-century style, cottagecore romance, Scandi chic or clean, contemporary elegance, poinsettias can enhance festive décor like no other plant.

This very special date in the calendar commemorates Joel Roberts Poinsett, who did so much to make poinsettias the world’s favourite festive plant before he died on 12th December 1851. Poinsett was a US ambassador who served in Mexico, and he brought the decorative plant back to the USA with him. In 1852, the US Congress declared the anniversary of his death “Poinsettia Day”. Over time, the tradition of giving a poinsettia as a gift to a loved one on 12th December became established in the USA.

This tradition has, over the years, become a staple ingredient of winter festivities in the UK and mainland Europe. Whether it’s as a token of affection, dinner party gift or a pretty self-purchase with the feelgood factor, a poinsettia is the perfect way to celebrate Christmas without breaking the bank. Buying poinsettias also enables us to support valued local horticultural businesses, garden centres and florists outside the spring season when they typically sell the most plants.

Poinsettia: the spirit of Christmas

As poinsettias become ever more embedded into the Spirit of Christmas, skillful plant breeding and selection has resulted in a breathtaking variety of colours and sizes, variegated leaves and differently shaped bracts. These vibrant plants are also incredibly versatile, serving their purpose equally well as standalone plants, cut flowers or intricate floral arrangements.

Poinsettias come in almost every style you can think of, from mini hot-pink poinsettias to tall-stemmed topiary plants in luxurious creamy white and Santa’s favourite crimson red. Whilst traditional red poinsettias are still the runaway favourites worldwide, the flourishing of other colours is good news for younger generations with more contemporary tastes.

With such a broad colour palette now available, versatile poinsettias not only bring the warmth and comfort of established tradition but can now deliver an eclectic modern twist to any home setting. Whether you’re trying to achieve an urban jungle, boho-chic style or a clean and airy contemporary vibe, poinsettias can help you create the look.

The more autumnal shades of orange, salmon, peach or yellow that are now available also extend the poinsettia season well past the traditional advent into October and November. These plants are also easier to keep alive than is generally assumed, providing they’re given the proper care. This includes keeping them at an optimum temperature of 15-22 degrees in soft filtered light, providing protection from cold draughts, light watering and regular misting in dry environments.

Crafty Christmas

Crafting and DIY are hobbies of choice for millions of Brits, and Stars for Europe is full of ideas to inspire craft enthusiasts who are seeking homespun ways to unwind during the Christmas break.

In this elegant Scandi-style arrangement, cut cream poinsettias rival the candle in brilliance. This artistic design, with its warm autumnal tones, takes very little skill to make.

You will need a bowl, chicken wire, floral tape, high-strength glue, a candle, a short piece of plastic pipe, poinsettias, kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos manglesii), winterberry (Ilex verticillata), wild asparagus (Asparagus acutifolius), eucalyptus pods (Eucalyptus robusta), James Storie orchids (Aranthera James Storie), and kiwi vines (Actinidia deliciosa).

Step 1: Stick the plastic tube to the bottom of the bowl using the glue.

2: Cut a length of chicken wire to roughly the diameter of the bowl, scrunch it up and place it inside the bowl, around the section of pipe and fix it in place, using floral tape placed over the edge of the bowl.

Step 3: Insert the cut poinsettias and the other florals close together into the chicken wire. Finally, place the candle into the plastic tube and add water to the bowl. Tip: Cut poinsettias will last for up to two weeks if you immerse the cut stem end in hot

water (approx. 60°C) for a few seconds immediately after cutting and then in cold water, then place the cut flower in fresh water.

Poinsettia wreaths

Wreaths are everywhere during Advent and Christmas, and the great thing about poinsettias is that they can transform even the simplest versions into beautiful, festive focal points. For this fabulous, natural, modern wall wreath, you’ll need a poinsettia, a metal wreath ring, wild clematis vine (Old Man’s Beard vine), spruce cones, twist wire, paper-covered binding wire and a drill.

How to do it: with the help of the drill and hook attachment, attach vines to the design ring with twists of binding wire. Then gradually weave in more and more vines until the bottom half of the wreath is wide enough to fit a planter inside. The top half of the wreath may be much narrower.

Then with paper-covered binding wire attach the cones and hang the wreath on the wall. Finally, gently place the poinsettia and planter in the densely woven vine.

Whether as a gift or table decoration, a bowl filled with cut poinsettias, a candle, baubles and gilded leaves is sure to create a festive atmosphere. This elegant arrangement is quick and easy to assemble:

Water some fresh flower foam and place it in the bowl. Wire the candle and insert it into the foam together with gilded leaves and cut poinsettias. Finally, finish off the arrangement with Christmas baubles. Tip: Immediately after cutting, dip the poinsettia stems in hot water (approx. 60°C) for a few seconds and then in cold water. They will stay fresh for up to two weeks in moist foam.

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