While most Christmas plants date back several hundred years to Europe and the Mediterranean, the poinsettia is a relatively recent Christmas symbol based in the Western world. Native to Mexico and cultivated by the Aztec Indians, the poinsettia is named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, who imported it from Mexico in 1828. After the Spanish conquest and the introduction of Christianity, the poinsettia found a place in Christmas rituals.

The legend of the poinsettia tells of a poor village boy in Mexico who wanted to give the Holy Child a gift, but had no money. In desperation, he picked some weeds on his way to church to leave as his gift. He prayed to God to help him show his love and God answered by turning the weeds into a beautiful star-shaped flower with bright red leaves. The poinsettia has been a Christmas symbol ever since signifying how Jesus meets the needs of His believers.

A poinsettia can last for weeks beyond the holidays when placed in indirect sunlight at least six hours a day. Keep it away from cold drafts and excessive heat. Water when it feels dry, and after the blooming season use an all-purpose fertilizer once a month. Poinsettias are helpful in removing pollutants from indoor air. – Courtesy of ARA.

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