Not just for silver surfers, these exotic seasonal plants can be embraced by young and old alike 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. 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 exotic 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.
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