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Poinsettia in Red, Pink and White
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by: Celebrity Recipes

For us who go with the natural flow of the seasons, it is in gray November when we plan for December’s most widely and, probably, longest celebrated event – that is, no mistake about it, Christmas.

And so we now invariably make notes and reminders for the merry month ahead:
·   Plan the trips during the Christmas holidays.
·   Send Christmas card and packages by December 8.
·   Find lights and decorations for the tree.
·   Donate some toys and gifts to charity.
·   Make a Christmas list – and make sure you’re on it.
·   Finish holiday shopping.
·   Fill the house with the scents and sounds of the holidays.
·   And not to forget, bring in the poinsettia.

Yes, the poinsettia, of course, which adds its own little magic to the Big Season’s delight. And how: a tropical shrub, the poinsettia’s bracts (petal-like leaves) surrounding its small yellow-gold flowers turn, as if on cue around this November-December period, to showy, scarlet ones – which we appreciate, but forgiven for mistaking them as the flowers themselves.

Thus, actually coming to full-bloom around the brr-rr-rr-rmonths and in time for the red-letter season, the red poinsettia holds its growing reputation as a true Christmas flower. The poinsettia’s (euphorbia pulcherrima) roots are traced back in the tropical soil of South America and America’s boundaries around Mexico. It was named after American diplomat Joel R. Poinsett (1799-1851) who was once the United States Minister to Mexico. It can be surmised that he “discovered” the plant for the gardening public in America, and hence, the world.

Locally, the Baguio-based King Louise Flowers and Plants, Inc. is at the forefront of poinsettia horticulture. "The poinsettia is always a bestseller,” confirms Francis Gener who manages the company’s branches in Baguio (Km. 3, Asin Road), Bulacan (Dulong Bayan “Karyapay”, San Jose del Monte) and Manila (Manila Seedling Bank complex, Quezon Ave., cor. EDSA, Quezon City). “When we started in 1983, we only had the typical red and white varieties of poinsettia. The pink variety was developed only in 1986.”

Thanks to cutting edge experimentation and propagation, it is now a much sought-after décor plant, meaning it is used as is – a pretty, potted whole (“live” roots, leaves, buds and all) – whether it stays outdoors in a garden or it goes indoors as the garden. “Indeed, there’s a poinsettia for very important celebrations of life: red for Christmas, pink for Valentine’s, and white for all church rites like weddings. That’s how they are much in demand now,” adds Gener.

For the real plant lovers, poinsettia is a care-easy plant to have. Gener has the professional tips:
·   Growing poinsettias must stay under partial shade.
·   Water them regularly around the roots. (Rainwater falling on its leaves causes the color to fade).
·   Fertilize with nutrients. (Coco pit, lahar and pumice are the best mixture.)
·   If cut-flower is more your style, dip the stem into melted candle before soaking in water of a flower vase. This way, the poinsettia bloom can last as long as three days.

There’s nothing like, say, growing your own pot or plot of poinsettia. Plant nurseries like King Louis’ (in Baguio, Bulacan, and Bukidnon) have  “starter kits” for sure. Basically, you just need to decide your color preference. “To do that, look at the stem. If it’s dark green you’ll have deep red poinsettia; pale green produces the white poinsettia; and the slight hint of pink along the stem and you’ll have a lovely pink poinsettia,” concludes Francis Gener.

How about having all three colors of poinsettia? So you have three lovely ways of enjoying the holidays.

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September 23, 2017

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