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Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

Picture of a Poinsettia Shrub
(Euphorbia pulcherrima)
Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) or noche buena
Picture by Kleomarlo, Image use (cc2)

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a flowering evergreen shrub indigenous to Mexico and Central America. The poinsettia has also been cultivated in Egypt since the 1860s. It was brought from Mexico during the Egyptian campaign. It is called "Bent El Consul", "the consul's daughter", referring to the U.S. ambassador Joel Poinsett.
There are over 100 cultivated varieties of poinsettia available.

In areas where Poinsettias would not survive outside, or not in its natural environment, Poinsettia is commonly grown as an indoor plant where it prefers good morning sun, then shade in the hotter part of the day. The flowers or cyathia of the poinsettia are located in the center of the colorful leaf bracts. The colored bracts, which are most often flaming red but can be orange, pale green, cream, pink, white or marbled are actually leaves.

Facts about the Euphorbia pulcherrima Species of Shrubs
  • Genus & Species Scientific Name = Euphorbia pulcherrima
  • Common Names = Poinsettia
  • Other names; Noche Buena, Bent El Consul
Planting and Growing Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
Recommended Temperatures For Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

As Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a subtropical shrub, it will likely die if the night time temperature falls below 10°C (50°F). Night time temperatures around 55°F to 60°F is preferable. Therefore it is not suitable for planting outside in the garden or landscape in cooler climates.
Daytime temperatures in excess of 21°C (70°F) tend to shorten the lifespan of the plant. Poinsettias ideally require daytime temperatures of 60°F to 70°F.

Flowering tips for Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

The poinsettia can be difficult to induce to re-flower after the initial display when purchased. The plant requires a period of uninterrupted long, dark nights for around two months in Autumn in order to develop flowers.
Incidental light (such as home lighting) at night during this time will hamper flower production.
Because of their groupings and colors, most people often think the bracts are the flower petals of the shrub. In fact, the flowers are grouped within the small yellow structures found in the center of each colored leaf bract, and they are called cyathia.
In order to produce extra auxiliary buds that are necessary for shrubs containing multiple flowers, a phytoplasma infection (whose symptoms include the proliferation of auxiliary buds) is used.

Watering tips for Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

When watering it is important to allow the plant to drain out any excess water. A poinsettia sitting in water can do harm to the shrub, as it prefers moist soil rather than direct water.

Growing Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) in Sub-tropical Climates Outdoors

Euphorbia pulcherrima is a shrub or small tree like shrub, typically reaching a height of 0.6 to 4 m (2 to 16 ft). The plant bears dark green dentate leaves that measure 7 to 16 cm (3 to 6 inches) in length.
The colors of the Bracts come from photoperiodism, meaning that they require darkness for 12 hours at a time for at least 5 days in a row to change color. At the same time, the plants need a lot of light during the day for the brightest color to form.

The Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) species is native to Mexico, it is found in the wild in deciduous tropical forest at moderate elevations from southern Sinaloa down the entire Pacific coast of Mexico to Chiapas and Guatemala. It is also found in the interior in the hot, seasonally dry forests of Chiapas, Guerrero, and Oaxaca.

Poinsettias are very popular in subtropical climates such as Australia, and are grown in gardens and landscapes in and around Sydney for example.

The poinsettia shrub is not poisonous, despite many rumors, however some people may have a skin irritation from the milky sap produced by the plant.

Shrub Growth Details

Mature Height : up to 10ft / 2m
Mature Spread : Varies on climate
Mature Form : Rounded Bush
Growth Rate : Medium
Sun Exposure : Sun to partial shade
Soil Moisture : Average
Soil Type : Varies
Soil pH : 5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
Flower Color : Yellow
Flowering Time : Winter
Foliage Color : Green, Red
Hardiness Zones : 9-11

Poinsettia will grow in the following North American hardiness zones;

Zone 9a, 20 to 25 F, -3.9 to -6.6 C
Zone 9b, 25 to 30 F, -1.2 to -3.8 C
Zone 10a, 30 to 35 F, 1.6 to -1.1 C
Zone 10b, 35 to 40 F, 4.4 to 1.7 C
Zone 11, above 40 F, above 4.5 C



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