This is the image of the poinsettia that most of us have.
Poinsettias are native to the tropical forests of Mexico, and because they have become associated with the Christmas season, they have become big business in the United States.
We use them to decorate for the holidays, and afterward, put them out in the yard in the foil-wrapped pots to dry up and eventually be tossed out. I’m betting that whole bunch of us (me included) have done that at one time or another.
This poinsettia grows in my yard.
This is not what this poinsettia looked like when I got it. A friend used several of them for holiday decorations, and afterward, put them out in her yard until they were just really feeble-looking stems in pots. In the spring, she was gathering them up to drop them in the trash can. I decided to rescue several of them.
I brought them home and planted them in a corner of the yard where I had caladiums, thinking that the two plants would compliment each others colors.
Will they Grow?
The plants were not much more than a ball of dried stems, but they began to grow and within a month, they had tiny leaves.
The leaves stayed green for almost a year. They began to turn red in January. In south Florida, and left to nature, the light isn’t right for them to take on their colorful leaves until January.
The beautiful red ‘flowers’ aren’t flowers at all. They are leaves that begin to change color when they get at least 12 hours of darkness for several days in a row. This is called photoperiodism.
Gradually, the plants began to fill out. By January, they were about 15 inches tall and were taking on their winter colors.
Worth the Wait
In January of 2013, a year and a half after I planted the holiday leftover plants, they took on the bright red leaves we recognize as poinsettias.
These may not be the spectacular arrangements we see in the stores during December, but it is really nice to have them all red in my yard… even if they missed their stage call in December.