Poinsettia Trivia

Put your knowledge of this holiday favorite to the test.
Similar Topics:
Euphorbia pulcherrima 'V-14 Pink'

Euphorbia pulcherrima 'V-14 Pink'

Poinsettias have been bred to bloom in a wide variety of colors, but red remains the number one seller.

Poinsettias are one of those plants we just, well, sort of take for granted. Let’s face it, they’re everywhere this season—as they are every year. Don’t get me wrong; I love them and buy several every holiday.

Yet, how much do we really know about this traditional holiday plant? Or more importantly, how much do we think we know? The poinsettia has long been dogged by many myths. Maybe just for fun it’s time to test your knowledge by taking a little quiz:

TRUE or FALSE?

1. During the 14th through 16th centuries, the Aztecs used the poinsettia’s sap in construction materials and its brachts (leaves) to make wine.

2. The German botanist Wilenow gave the poinsettia its botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, which means “very beautiful.”

3. The poinsettia got its name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first American to swim from Cuba to Mexico.

4. While exploring the Mexico countryside, Poinsett, a botany enthusiast, discovered a beautiful shrub with large red flowers, took cuttings from it, and brought them back to his greenhouse in South Carolina.

5. Poinsett founded the Washington institution now known as the Smithsonian.

6. The poinsettia eventually became known as a Christmas plant because it can be found blooming in Mexico only for a short period of time around Christmas.

7. December 12 is celebrated as National Poinsettia Day, marking the date of Poinsett’s death.

8. Poinsettia breeding and hybridization have led to a wide spectrum of bloom colors beyond the traditional red and includes even blue.

9. Poinsettias are one of the most poisonous plants around.

10. As tropical plants, poinsettias prefer lots of sunlight and warm temperatures of 80 to 90 degrees and cool breezes.

BONUS: Poinsettias should be treated as annuals because they will not re-bloom the next season.

ANSWERS 

  1. False. They used the sap to control fevers and the brachts to make a red dye.
  2. True.
  3. False. Poinsett was the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.
  4. True.
  5. True.
  6. True.
  7. True.
  8. True.
  9. False. This is the most widely held myth about the plant. Extensive research has proved the plant is to be non-toxic – though like many plants, it can cause upset stomach if ingested.
  10. False. They do prefer lots of sunlight but daytime temperatures of only 65 to 70 degrees and at night, 55 to 60 degrees. They also do not like cold drafts so often need to be placed away from windows and doors.

Bonus: False. Although it can be tricky and time-consuming, poinsettias can be encouraged to re-bloom again.

Next Up

Plant and Grow Poinsettias in Your Garden

These tropical beauties can flourish outdoors in warm-winter areas.

Poinsettia Care Through Winter (and Beyond)

This iconic holiday plant has tropical roots. Get tips on keeping your poinsettia looking its best all year.

Poinsettias: Variations in a Theme

Check out this grower's favorite cultivars. Plus, care tips for this holiday favorite.

How to Care for Poinsettias

Poinsettias bring a splash of festive red and green to a table or windowsill at the holidays. With proper care, you can enjoy these beautiful plants for weeks.

Caring for Christmas Plants

Learn how to keep your favorite holiday plants thriving all year.

When Leaves Come First

There are few pleasures that gardeners look forward to more than the first flowers of spring. After the bloom fades, all that's left is the foliage. However, the foliage can come in an endless array of colors.

Growing Astilbe

This perennial's bright flowers and foliage will add a burst of color to any shady spot in your garden.

Tropical Garden Retreat

You don't need to live in the tropics to create a lush, leafy, junglelike corner in which to hide away from the stresses of the world. These sculptural plants will give your garden that getaway feeling.

Dramatic Hothouse Foliage

If your neutral room needs a dash of dazzling color, try tropical foliage plants grown in contemporary containers.

Coleus canina

Discover a coleus gives local cats, dogs, bunnies and other critters the brush-off.