A tropical American shrub, Euphorbia Pulcherrima, having petallike, usually scarlet bracts beneath small yellow flowers, widely grown as a houseplant. Discovered by J.R. Poinsett (1799-1851), U.S. Minister to Mexico.

Poinsettias in Panama

From the Panama Canal Review, December 5, 1952

We don't have the crisp cold air to remind us that Christmas is just around the corner but we do have its counterpart, the glorious red poinsettias coming into bloom. The poinsettias are just as much a part of Christmas in the tropics as holly or mistletoe in temperate climates.

The original poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) came from Mexico but are now grown in almost every tropical and semi-tropical region in the world. Many of our choicest hybrid poinsettias have been developed by gardeners in California and thousands of potted plants are sold through florist each year.

There are very few plants easier to propagate then the poinsettias. Cuttings placed in the soil in May should, with a little care, produce stocky plants bearing six or more blooms by the following December. Single blooming stock may be had from cuttings placed as late as August.

Shock Branches Often.

The secret for growing bushy plants with numerous blooms is to keep the plants growing vigorously and to keep picking off the tip of each new branch when it is from four to six inches long. The more times the branches are "shocked" by picking before September first, the more dormant buds will be forced into growth for Christmas flowering.

It is important that the plants be allowed to develop or mature from September on to insure that they are in the prime for Christmas.

The bright red rosettes of floral leaves are usually mistaken for flowers. The true flowers however, are the small yellow protuberances near the center of the rosettes.

Many of you may not have been content to admire the poinsettias growing out of doors but have attempted to cut them for indoor decorations. The results may have been disheartening as the bracts soom wilted.

Prevent Wilting.

The chance of keeping the cut bracts from wilting is greatly increased if, immediately after cutting, one dips the cut end of stem into boiling water to stop the loss of juice and then plunges the entire stem and flower into ice cold water. The "flowers" should be thus immersed in water for at least four hours before they are placed into shallower containers for use as table decorations.

Submitted by CZAngel

December 5, 1999

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