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Let's Get Growing - Poinsettias a tradition

Poinsettias have large, showy bracts surrounding small, yellow flowers. In today’s language of flowers, the red symbolizes good cheer and success and is said to bring wishes of mirth and celebration, according to Telaflora.  

They were named for Dr. Joel R. Poinsett, an American diplomat to Mexico in the early 1800s. They have been a part of religious ceremonies back to the time of the Aztecs. The Aztecs also used the bracts to make purple dye for clothes and cosmetics and the milky white sap was made into a medicine to treat fevers.

The first Philadelphia flower show displayed them using the latin name euphorbia pulcherrima or “the most beautiful Euphorbia.”      

There are two pronunciations for poinsettia.  Webster’s dictionary shows poin-set-ee-ah as the preferred with poin-set-ah as second choice.

In the Christian tradition, the shape of the leaves (or bracts) are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus.

Here are tips for poinsettia care from Tennessee Home and Farm magazine:

* For longest-lasting poinsettias, select plants with little or no yellow (or flower) showing.

* Poinsettias are very sensitive to cold. Cover when transporting and do not place in a draft. Keep in a consistent temperature, no lower than 60 degrees at night and no warmer than 80 degrees during the day.

* Keep the soil slightly moist when the surface of the soil feels dry to the touch, water the plant until water runs out the drainage hold.

Poinsettias are grown locally in greenhouses in Roane County, Tennessee.  

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