It feels like a timeless pairing – poinsettias and the holiday season – but this festive plant wasn’t always a holiday staple.
As the sixth largest nursery in the U.S. and a live goods producer for The Home Depot, Bell Nursery knows about the plant’s history and holiday craze. Bell Nursery took a quick break from harvesting this year’s poinsettia crop to share 9 things you probably didn’t know about where poinsettias came from and how they ended up in your home this holiday.
1. The Aztecs used the poinsettia bracts (colored part of the plant) to make a reddish purple dye for fabrics. They also used the plant’s sap medicinally to control fevers.
2. Poinsettias are native to Mexico and received their name in honor of the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett. A botanist and physician, Poinsett is credited with bringing the colorful plant to the U.S. and popularizing poinsettias with friends across the country.
3. The now popular holiday plant grows in a greenhouse where it’s carefully tended to in a controlled, dark environment for months. The plant turns its recognizable shade of red in October and is in full bloom and ready to make its holiday debut for the season in mid-November.
4. Not all poinsettias are red. Bell Nursery grows about 20 different varieties of poinsettias each year, and only six of those are red. They also cultivate white, pink, speckled and orange colors.
5. It doesn’t take Bell Nursery poinsettias a long time to get to your local Home Depot store – no more than 50 miles to regional distribution centers where they are shared with local stores in less than 24 hours.
6. Nearly half of poinsettias that make it to your home from The Home Depot are purchased on Black Friday, when the potted plant can become a part of your holiday celebration for just 99 cents.
7. Overall, poinsettias are the best-selling potted plant in the United States and Canada.
8. Despite urban legends, poinsettias are not poisonous. Although they’re not for human consumption, an Ohio State University study showed that a 50-pound child would have to eat more than 500 leaves to have any side effects, which would be an unreasonably high amount to consume.
9. The poinsettia holiday craze continues to grow, as does the number of unique varieties grown each year and new ways of using poinsettias throughout the home.
So, the next time you see a poinsettia this holiday, thank the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett, and growers like Bell Nursery for establishing and continuing the poinsettia holiday tradition.
Check out the below infographic for more poinsettia information: