Pretoria News Weekend - - GARDENING -

POIN­SET­TIAS (also known as Mex­i­can Flame Leaf) are tra­di­tion­ally as­so­ci­ated with the fes­tive sea­son.

The red, white and black fo­liage is com­monly mis­taken for a flower but ac­tu­ally, they are coloured bracts.

The leg­end of the poin­set­tia dates back to 16th cen­tury Mex­ico and tells of a young girl who was too poor to pro­vide a gift for the cel­e­bra­tion of Je­sus’ birth­day.

An an­gel ap­peared and in­spired her to gather weeds from the road­side and to place these in front of the church’s al­tar. Crim­son “blos­soms” sprouted from the weeds and grew to be­come beau­ti­ful poin­set­tias.

In South Africa, poin­set­tias are a com­mon gar­den plant that flow­ers dur­ing win­ter. Pot­ted va­ri­eties have been specif­i­cally grown for the sea­son and are avail­able in a va­ri­ety of in­tense colours. The plant is syn­ony­mous with the up­com­ing hol­i­day sea­son and makes a bright, bold state­ment.

Af­ter the leaves have fallen off the poin­set­tia, it can be planted out­side in the gar­den and will nat­u­rally flower in the win­ter.

No flower says hol­i­days like the beau­ti­ful poin­set­tia. The showy coloured parts of poin­set­tias that most peo­ple think of as flow­ers are ac­tu­ally coloured bracts (mod­i­fied leaves).


Po­si­tion the plant in bright light dur­ing win­ter. The plant must be pro­tected from the hot sum­mer sun if it is to flower again.

Only wa­ter a poin­set­tia when its soil is dry to the touch. Wa­ter un­til wa­ter seeps out the bot­tom of the drainage holes.

Although poin­set­tias do not like to dry out, they also do not like to sit in wa­ter.

Empty the wa­ter that ac­cu­mu­lates in the drip pan that holds the pot.

Fer­tilise plant weekly, from mid-spring to end of sum­mer.

SHOWY SHRUB: Poin­set­tia

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