The Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima or as it is more commonly known, the Winter Rose Poinsettia, is known to be a once-off seasonal shrub.
This, however, is untrue as the Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima is in fact a perennial plant and is capable of blooming again. Other than Winter Rose Poinsettia, this beautifully festive plant is known as the Winter Rose Early Red or simply as the Christmas flower or Christmas Rose.
These common names were deduced not only because of the appearance of the plant but because of its season of interest and popularity.
Being native to Mexico and blooming in the season of winter, the Winter Rose Poinsettia is a hugely popular choice for both festive decorations and gifts.
Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima is the most popular indoor and flowering plant that is sold in the United States. This is despite the fact that it is only available for roughly six weeks of the year.
U.S ambassador, Joel Robert Poinsett, is this shrub’s namesake. This is because he was the first to have brought the plant into the United States.
The introduction of the Winter Rose Poinsettia occurred back in 1825. Poinsettias plants have gained so much popularity over time that they even have their very own national day! December 12th is known as National Poinsettia Day.
Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima characteristics
Winter Rose Poinsettia plants are truly magnificent with their striking red bracts elegantly laid atop deep green leaves. The bracts of the Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima are really just modified leaves. It is a common misconception that these bracts or leaves are the plant’s flower petals. In actual fact, the Winter Rose Poinsettia’s flowers are small and quite inconsequential.
The real flowers of this shrub are located on the inner part of the plant, known as the cyathia. Cyathias can be found in the center of each group of bracts. This is the small and yellow part on the inside of the plant which holds the plant’s pollen. Unfortunately, despite the presence of pollen, the Winter Rose Poinsettia is not one to attract pollinators.
Once the Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima has shed its pollen, the leaves of the plant will begin to fall off. It is typical of the colored leaves to be the first to fall off. This is then followed by the plant’s regular green leaves.
Although red is typically the most popular color, Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima plants are available in a range of colors.
Other color variations include pink, white, marbled, yellow, and orange. Growing in popularity are the pink, white and marbled variations.
Other than their vibrant coloring, the bracts of the Winter Rose Poinsettia have another point of interest. This being their shape. Interestingly, the bracts of the Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima appear much like a gathered seam as they curl under.
These plants grow to resemble a bloom that is very rose-like. This resemblance along with the shrub’s season of interest was put together to create its common name, Winter Rose Poinsettia.
On average, you can expect the Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima to be no more than 20cm to 61cm (8in to 24in) in height and roughly 61cm (24in) in width.
With an upright growth habit and a slow-growing reputation, the Winter Rose Poinsettia is generally gifted once they have already been grown.
Typically, once the festive season has come to a close these shrubs are discarded. This is due to the misconception that the Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima is a purely seasonal plant when in fact they are capable of being perennial with proper care.
When cared for as a perennial, the Winter Rose Poinsettia maintains its season of interest during the months of winter.
Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima plants have a history, if not a legacy, as being the flowers of Christmas. They are extremely popular as festive decorations and make up a major part of a lot of floral Christmas displays. Winter Rose Poinsettia shrubs are also a favored gifting option.
These shrubs can even be trained to grow as small trees. Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima makes for gorgeous statement pieces at entryways or just about any location in your home.
Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima Care
The most testing parts of care when it comes to the Winter Rose Poinsettia are watering and the plant’s temperature exposure. Too much or too little water will be harmful to your Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima. Therefore, it is necessary to keep a close watch and water your plant accordingly.
Not being cold hardy or frost tolerant means that this shrub needs to be kept in temperatures no lower than 12.7°C (55°F). Other than that, the Winter Rose Poinsettia is fairly easy to care for. They prefer porous, acid, and well-draining soil and should ideally be kept indoors in a spot with access to bright but indirect sunlight.
These shrubs do not need to be fertilized unless kept as a perennial plant. Maintenance such as trimming, pruning, and repotting is also only necessary if the shrub is kept past its season of interest.
The soil requirements for this colorful shrub are simple. Not one to enjoy sitting in excess water, the Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima requires a soil type that is well-draining. These shrubs prefer loose, porous, and acidic soils.
A good soil option for your Winter Rose Poinsettia is a premixed pasteurized soil.
Winter Rose Poinsettias are a bit more pedantic when it comes to their watering requirements. It is vital that you never over-water your Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima. These shrubs prefer an average level of moisture in their soil, but not enough for them to feel drenched.
You should always allow time between watering sessions for your plant’s topsoil to dry out slightly. Before watering, it is recommended that you test the soil moisture by placing your finger about 2.5cm (1in) into the soil.
Doing so will allow you to feel and judge whether or not your Winter Rose Poinsettia needs more water without risking the health of your plant.
Only watering your plant when it is in need of a drink will reduce the risk of root rot. However, you will need to find the happy medium. Too little water will result in your Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima wilting and its lower leaves drooping. Too much water may cause your plant’s lower leaves to yellow and droop.
Tips for watering the Winter Rose Poinsettia are to water it deeply only when needed. Allow excess water to drain from the soil and into the pot’s saucer. Always discard the excess water. Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima should never be left to sit with water in their pot’s saucer.
When watering, avoid wetting the plant’s leaves. Make sure you strictly water around the base of your Winter Rose Poinsettia.
Another important factor to consider when caring for the Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima is the temperature. Even though these plants are winter bloomers, they are not at all hardy to the cold. Winter Rose Poinsettias also do not have any tolerance to frost.
Ideally, these shrubs should be kept in temperatures between 15.5°C to 21°C (60°F to 70°F) during the day. At night, temperatures around 12.7°C (55°F) are required.
Exposure to temperatures that are either too hot or too cold for the Winter Rose Poinsettia will cause harm to it. The plant’s leaves will face damage with too cold a temperature and are likely to drop. Too high of a temperature will shorten the plant’s bloom time.
It is best to keep these shrubs away from areas where they may be exposed to drafts or appliances that are used to give off heat.
Preferred humidity levels for the Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima are typical household levels.
Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima is best suited as indoor plants. They enjoy bright but indirect sunlight and it is in this level of light exposure that they are known to do best. Ideally, your Winter Rose Poinsettia should be exposed to light for six hours per day.
However, the Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima is a short-day, long-night type of plant. They need longer periods of darkness in order to change their colors. Preferential climate zones for the Winter Rose Poinsettia are USDA Hardiness zones 9 to 11.
If your Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima is placed by a window, it is vital that you ensure the plant’s leaves do not make contact with the cold glass of the window. Contact with the window’s glass will chill the plant’s leaves which can be extremely harmful.
Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima does not require much pruning or other general maintenance. This is due to the fact that the majority of these plant owners discard them preceding the winter months or at the close of the festive season. However, if kept as a perennial, the Winter Rose Poinsettia does need to be trimmed and repotted.
For the continuation of growth, Winter Rose Poinsettias should be trimmed right down to just above the soil line. Trimming the stem of your Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima down until it is about 10cm (4in) above the soil is recommended. Following this, repotting your shrub is advisable.
Remove your newly trimmed Winter Rose Poinsettia from its pot and remove as much of the remaining soil from it as possible. Remember to be gentle with your plant. Replace your shrub either in a new pot or its original one with fresh soil.
Finally, you will need to water your Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima deeply twice. First, soak your plant’s soil completely and allow it to drain for a couple of minutes. Then water it once more. Be sure to discard any excess water that has been caught in the pot’s saucer.
As with the maintenance of the Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima, fertilizing is only necessary should you keep your plant past the festive season. A general-purpose, houseplant fertilizer that is water-soluble is suitable. This should only be applied once a month, but not at all when the Winter Rose Poinsettia is in bloom.
Propagation of the Winter Rose Poinsettia shrub is done through stem cuttings. Although possible, it is rather difficult to propagate a Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima.
Pests and diseases
Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima plants are prone to many different diseases. Many of these diseases are a result of either over-watering or under-watering. Issues you may experience with the Winter Rose Poinsettia as a result of improper watering include root rot, leaves wilting, yellowing, drooping, or even dropping off and white marks. White marks on your plant is a result of water dropping on it.
Pests that are known to be a nuisance to Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrimas include Fungus Gnats, spider mites, mealybugs, and whiteflies.
Frequently asked questions about the Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima
Are Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima plants poisonous?
It is a misconception that the Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima is anything more than a mildly poisonous plant. Although the shrub produces a milky sap it is only likely to cause skin irritation to some people, especially those who are allergic to latex. Even if the plant is ingested, by a human or animal, the result of this is only mild discomfort in the stomach.
Does the Winter Rose Poinsettia only bloom once?
Another misconception of the Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima is that it only has a lifespan of around six weeks. Although this is partially true, what people do not realize is that the Winter Rose Poinsettia is a perennial plant and can be encouraged to bloom again. This requires proper care, however, and many people find it easier to just discard the plant and purchase a new one the following festive season.
Can the Winter Rose Poinsettia be grown in water?
The Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima is not a shrub that is capable of being grown in water.
The Winter Rose Poinsettia is an eye-catching plant that is widely adored. This plant is vastly known to symbolize the festive season and no Christmas floral display is complete without a few of them! Despite the few misconceptions about the Poinsettia euphorbia pulcherrima, it is a magnificent addition for any occasion and will bring beauty to all locations it is placed.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.