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“What’s the Buzz?” (11/29/21)

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

Did you know that Poinsettias are pollinator plants? And they can do very well planted in the ground outside when the Holidays are over? Here are some interesting facts about this popular nectar plant –

*Native to Mexico, the Aztecs used poinsettias for red dye and medicinally.

*They were associated with Christmas almost immediately after Christianity was introduced in Mexico. Legend tells of a young Mexican girl named Pepita who wanted to give the baby Jesus a present at the Christmas service but had no money. Her cousin, Pedro said, “Even small gifts given with love make Jesus happy.” She found weeds from the side of the road and set them on the altar. Moments later, they transformed into brilliant red blooms – surely a miracle.

*In 1825, the first Mexican Ambassador sent cuttings to his home in North Carolina and began sending them to friends and family. They were sold at the Philadelphia flower show by botanist John Bartram, and soon became a worldwide Christmas symbol.

*The red leaves of the poinsettia are called bracts.

*They begin to turn red when the plant starts to receive at least 12 hours of complete darkness each day.

*Why? The colored bracts help draw pollinators to the diminutive flowers, which might otherwise go unnoticed. So once again, all that beauty is for pollinators and we get to enjoy!

*Here in Florida, poinsettias can be planted outside – simply place in partial shade and cut back to 8”. Water regularly, and butterflies/bees will be attracted to the flowers. However, in a freeze warning, they will need to be protected.

*As a final note, despite the common myth, poinsettias are NOT extremely poisonous. In fact, studies say that a 50 lb child would need to eat 500 leaves before being in serious danger. Given that poinsettia is very bitter, it’s unlikely a child or pet would take more than one bite.

So enjoy the beautiful Poinsettias which will be everywhere during the holidays, and know they are not only gorgeous, but support our pollinator friends –

Back to the habitat in my January blog – see you then –

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