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Why Don’t Poinsettias Bloom The Rest Of The Year?

December 12, 2016

I was going to write about the many work outages I dealt with all weekend. (My favorite being the one from midnight to 3:00am.) But, it’s the middle of December, so I’m going to write about those pretty holiday flowers. The beautiful red poinsettias.

Ever wonder why they don’t bloom any other time of the year? In fact, we never even see them during the other months of the year. It’s like they are locked in a dark closet somewhere and only get pulled out at the beginning of December.

Funny thing that.

Poinsettias are not red. Well, of course, they are red, but it’s not natural. In fact, that beautiful image of the Poinsettias in the foreground and the snowy white of a winter landscape in the background, is also not real. Poinsettias are native to Mexico. I’ve only been to Mexico in the summer, but I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t snow a lot in Mexico around Christmas time.

Every Christmas, I buy my lovely wife a poinsettia. I buy her a small one that is about 8″ tall. The big ones that are about 18″ tall take up too much room. But, actually, those are also the small ones. Remember that “native to Mexico” thing? Not only are poinsettias native to central America, they also typically grow to 12 to 16 feet tall. We all buy small ones.

We try to keep our poinsettia alive through the year. I think the longest we’ve made it was until about March. One of the things we notice as we continue to care for the poinsettia as a houseplant, is that eventually the red leaves fall off. If we are doing a good job of caring for the plant, new leaves grow. The new leaves are green. Eventually, all the red ones are gone and the plant takes on a very non-Christmasy look.

You might be wondering how you get the plant to bloom that red flower? It doesn’t. Those aren’t petals. They are leaves. The poinsettias flower looks totally different. So, how do you get the plant leaves to turn red? You deprive it of light. Poinsettias need 14-16 hours per day of total darkness to change their leaves from green to red.

So, where are all the poinsettias the rest of the year? They lock them in a dark closet and pull them out at the beginning of December.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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