Why Are Poinsettias Associated with Christmas (& Everything Else You Need to Know) in 2023


Aside from the emerald hues of evergreen trees and the bright reds of berries, Christmas also has another organic design that is quite well-known. Have you ever seen the incredibly red flower that’s always around during Christmas time?

That’s the Poinsettia flower! It’s also called the Christmas flower since it’s the most widely used floral design during the holidays. But why is the poinsettia so popular during Christmas? Where did this practice start? And how do you decorate using the poinsettia plant?

Learn all the tips and tricks of using the poinsettia as Christmas décor by reading the article below!

What Is a Poinsettia?

poinsettia green red
Source: Mother Distracted

The scientific name of the poinsettia plant is Euphorbia pulcherrima, and it was described as a new species in the 1830s by the German scientist Johann Klotzsch. The physical example they used was collected during the early 1800s expedition led by Alexander von Humboldt and Aime Bonpland.

The term ‘poinsettia’ was coined in the late 1830s. It was taken from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first US ambassador to Mexico. He was the one who introduced the plant to the United Stated by bringing it to his greenhouses in South Carolina.

Prior to being known as the Christmas flower, the poinsettia plant was called the ‘cuetlaxochitl’ by the ancient Aztecs. As early as the 14th century, they used the plants as a type of medicine to lessen fever symptoms. It is also utilized as red and purple dyes for clothing.

Why Do We Have Poinsettias At Christmas?

poinsettia white vase
Source: House Beautiful

But what is the meaning of poinsettia at Christmas? Well, in about the 17th century, Christmas and the poinsettia plant coincided because of a legend. But more on that later.

One other interpretation as to why people use poinsettias at Christmas is because the plant is said to represent the Star of Bethlehem. Said star was the light that led the three wise men to the baby Jesus when he was born.

Where Did The Christmas Star, the Poinsettia, Originate From?

dark poinsettia
Source: Garden Making

The most popular reason why poinsettias are used at Christmas is directly related to its country of origin. So the next question to ask is: what country are poinsettias, the Christmas flower, from?

It comes from Mexico. One reason why poinsettias are used at Christmas started in a small town in Mexico called Taxco de Alarcon. The Franciscan monks residing here began using poinsettias for the Nativity celebrations.

At the same time, a Mexican legend surrounding the plant emerged and cemented poinsettias as the Christmas flower.

What is the Legend of the Poinsettia At Christmas in Mexico?

vignette poinsettia
Source: eHow

The Legend of Pepita and the Poinsettia is the most popular interpretation that answers the question: why are poinsettia Christmas plants?

The legend goes that a little girl named Pepita was going to her church’s Nativity scene, but she didn’t have the money to buy the baby Jesus any gifts. So she picked up a few weeds from the road to create a bouquet.

She was disappointed with her gift. Still, her cousin reminded her that a simple gift, given in love, will always be appreciated by God. When Pepita presented her bouquet to baby Jesus, it bloomed into a bunch of vivid red poinsettia plants. That is why the poinsettia is also called the ‘Flores de Noche Buena’ (Flowers of the Holy Night).

What to Do With Christmas Poinsettias

lots plant poinsettia
Source: Bob Vila

You can do a lot of decorating with your poinsettia plants. They can be potted and displayed on your front porch, your living room, and anywhere in the house.

Poinsettias can also be used to decorate Christmas garlands and wreaths. But before you go on decorating with this bright red plant, you should first know how and when to plant poinsettias for Christmas.

How to Plant Poinsettias

poinsettia window
Source: Bob Vila

Planting poinsettias depend on the type of climate you have where you live. Ideally, poinsettias need a warm environment to thrive. If you live in an environment that doesn’t have freezing winters, you can plant them outside directly on the ground. Otherwise, poinsettias can be a great household plant with proper care.

If you get your poinsettia potted during the winter, make sure it stays potted until about spring. Don’t move it until the weather gets warm enough for you to replant it outside. Make sure you water your poinsettia whenever the soil starts to look dry.

When it is ready for replanting, cut your poinsettia plant up at about eight inches to encourage regrowth. Search for a place where your plant will get a lot of morning sun and some shade during the afternoon.

Dig about twelve to 16 inches, and enrich the soil with organic compost. Gently plant the poinsettia and mulch the area surrounding it. It’s also a good idea to keep your poinsettia plant fertilized. You can use a 12-12-12 or 20-20-20 compound.

Regularly water your plant, especially when the soil starts feeling dry to your touch. Make sure not to overwater because that can cause fungal disease. If you want your poinsettia plant to flower, regularly prune shoots from the plant.

Poinsettias Care

potted poinsettia
Source: Country Living

Now that you know that poinsettias like a bit of warm weather, here are a few tips on how to keep them fresh and looking beautiful throughout the cold winter season:

  • Keep them away from cold windows and drafts.
  • Place them somewhere they can get direct sunlight.
  • Keep the soil moist, but not overwatered.
  • Fertilize them.
  • Keep an eye on the change of temperature, and act accordingly.

DIY Paper Poinsettias

paper poinsettia
Source: Etsy - LevusFlowers

Admittedly, not everyone has a green thumb. And some of us don’t even like having real plants inside our homes. This doesn’t mean you can’t decorate your house with poinsettias come Christmas time.

Sure, you can probably buy artificial poinsettias from the store. But if you want to put a bit more personality and effort to your decorating, you can even create poinsettias out of almost anything. A great DIY project you and your kids can try out is making poinsettias out of paper.

Here are some of the materials you might need:

# Item Description
1 Colored Paper Red and green paper would definitely be needed.
2 Scissors Scissors can help you cut your shapes more precisely.
3 Glue Use glue to keep your paper parts together.
4 Red Glitter Prettify your poinsettias with red glitter.

If you want to learn more about how to make poinsettias, watch this video:

How to Draw and Paint a Poinsettia

paint poinsettia
Source: House Plants - Gardenites

Drawing and painting a poinsettia is a great way to celebrate Christmas. You can do it for fun or even give your paintings away as a gift to friends and family.

That being said, you can probably find lots of tutorials online. Some would be more apt for people who already have a few drawing and painting skills.

If you want to follow a more visual guide from start to finish, watch this video:

How to Decorate with Poinsettias

As a plant, you’d probably see a real poinsettia potted around the house during Christmas. But that’s not the only way to go about it.

Decorating with poinsettias can be done for both the inside and outside of your home. Need some new inspiration? Check these out:

boot poinsettia
Source: HGTV

vase poinsettia
Source: Ideas Bonitas Para

poinsettia stair
Source: Home Bunch

poinsettia table setting
Source: Walmart

poinsettia vase outside
Source: Polyvore

How to Hang Poinsettia Christmas Hanging Baskets

hang poinsettia wood
Source: Miles Kimball

If you want to hang some poinsettias out on your front porch, go ahead! It will definitely look cheery and appropriate for the Christmas season.

Here are some of the things you’ll need:

# Item Description
1 Hanging Basket Make sure you get a pretty and durable hanging basket.
2 Planter You’ll need a planter to put your poinsettia in.
3 Organic Growing Mix Help your poinsettia thrive with organic growing mix.
4 Gardening Gloves Protect your hands with a pair of gardening gloves.
5 Gardening Tools Make your project easier by using gardening tools.

How to Decorate With Poinsettia Hanging Baskets

Hanging poinsettias in a basket is cute and traditional. But there’s so much else you can do with them! Let your creative juices flow and think of other ways to hang up your beautiful Christmas flowers.

Aside from hanging baskets, you can also make a wreath or mini-hanging pots for your path. Here are a few more ideas to help you get started:

planter hang poinsettia Source: House of Bath

poinsettia wreath Source: Etsy – Christmas Wreath

path poinsettia
Source: Ucuc - Kaportagocukduzeltme

hanging poinsettia ball Source: Flower About

window box poinsettiaSource: Home and Craft

What to Do With Poinsettias After Christmas

red bird poinsettia
Source: West Coast Gardens

So, Christmas is finished, and the celebrations are over. You’ve packed up all other decorations except one. So, it’s time to think of what to do with a poinsettia plant after Christmas.

The first order of business is to determine whether your plant is still alive. If not, you can choose to throw them in the garbage. Make sure to recycle appropriately. Another thing you can do is put it in your compost.

If your poinsettia is still looking fine, you can choose to keep taking care of it. If properly cared for, your poinsettias can thrive in time for next Christmas.

Where Can I Find Poinsettias, the Christmas Flower?

burlap poinsettia
Source: EL Mueble

If you want to buy genuine poinsettia plants, you’ll have the best luck with nurseries and greenhouses. Some stores like Walmart will probably sell them in time for Christmas as well. However, most of the poinsettias plants sold in the US can be found in states with warmer weather like California and Florida.

Buying artificial poinsettias are definitely easier since most craft stores and general stores will have them on sale for the holiday season. You can even get them online in stores like Amazon and Etsy.

To help you start your poinsettia buying, here are a few cool products to check out:

# Item Description
1 Artificial Poinsettia Bouquet Go classic with an artificial poinsettia bouquet.
2 Giant Paper Poinsettia Really get into the Christmas spirit with giant paper poinsettias everywhere.
3 Glitter Artificial Poinsettias Everything’s better when it sparkles.
4 Poinsettia Christmas Earrings Poinsettias aren’t just for home décor. You can even wear them!
5 Red Poinsettia Lights Have a unique Christmas with red poinsettia lights.


Poinsettias started out as a Christmas flower very innocently. A heartwarming legend of a young girl wanting to give baby Jesus her best gift will surely touch many people in the world. But let’s face it. That’s not the only reason why poinsettias are still prevalent in Christmas traditions today.

The vivid red and green palette of a poinsettia plant is very reminiscent of Christmas, and the tradition of using it for the holidays has been passed down from one generation to the next. It seems wrong not to continue a tradition that deep familial roots. With that, it’s no wonder that poinsettias continue to bloom every Christmas season.