by William J. Langenberg
Need a radiant and heartwarming centre-piece during the cold winter days? The magical Poinsettia brings it all to you during the Christmas Holidays. It is not surprising that the poinsettia is the most popular plant during this festive season. Its brightly coloured bracts offer hope, strength, love and peace. They also reduce the Christmas Holiday Stress. The leaves that colour are actually the floral bracts.
The Red Poinsettia is best known around the world as the Christmas Star: why else would it transform its leaves into striking colours such as white, cream, lemon, salmon, pink, purple and red? It’s a Star!
Why the Poinsettia steals the hearts of people at Christmas is explained in the Mexican legend about a poor Mexican girl, Pepita, who could not afford a gift for baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve service. As Pepita walked slowly to the chapel with her cousin Pedro, her heart was filled with sadness rather than joy. “I am sure, Pepita, that even the most humble gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes”, said Pedro consolingly.
Not knowing what else to do, Pepita knelt by the roadside and gathered a handful of common weeds, fashioning them into a small bouquet. Looking at the scraggly bunch of weeds, she felt more saddened and embarrassed than ever by the humbleness of her offering. She fought back a tear as she entered the small Mexican village chapel.
As she approached the altar, she remembered Pedro’s kind words: “Even the most humble gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes”. She felt her spirit lift, as she knelt to lay the bouquet at the foot of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into blooms of brilliant red, and all who saw them were certain that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle right before their eyes.
This magical effect of the Poinsettia is best expressed in a well-lit spot in the home, but no direct sunlight. The plant loves regular watering, as long as it is lukewarm. It does not tolerate wet feet, so don’t over water. It does not like cold temperatures, so when transporting outside, keep it well covered and insulated. Do not place a poinsettia near a doorway, heat register, or stove. Mist the plant regularly. The plant does not like sudden temperature changes, it makes the leaves drop. Always remove the foil wrapper to allow the plant to breath.
Enjoy the warmth of Christmas with this wonder of Christmas – the Poinsettia.