Poinsettia Pro Tips from Como’s Holiday Flower Show

The diverse color possibilities of Poinsettias are now on display at the Holiday Flower Show, featuring  ‘Ferrara’ red, variegated ‘Tapestry’ plants with yellow & green leaves, and yellow ‘Golden Glo’ Poinsettias. Yellow flowering kalanchoe, hibiscus, and lemon cyprus add tropical accents to one of the most visited flower shows of the year. 

Known as the flor de nochebuena—or Christmas Eve Flower—in their native Mexico, it’s no wonder Poinsettias have become the quintessential plant of the season. Available in  endless shades of reds, pinks, creams, and greens, Poinsettias are among the most economically valuable plants in the world, with nearly 70 million sold each holiday season in the United States alone. 

Marjorie McNeely Conservatory horticulturist Bo Akinkuotu knows just what it takes to make these delicate tropical plants come to life. Back in June, he planted more than 1,000 Poinsettias to ensure they’d be at their peak just in time for the Holiday Flower Show now on display in the Sunken Garden through January 7.

“It’s a tricky thing, because Poinsettias are a touchy, finicky plant, especially for growing at home,” Akinkuotu says. Though they’re deeply associated with the winter holidays, “They’re a tropical, heat-loving plant, and they don’t like to get too wet, or they’ll rot, and they don’t like to get too dry, or they’ll wilt. You have to find that sweet spot between the two.” 

A member of the Euphorbia family, Poinsettias can only come to life during the darkest days of the year. “The interesting thing about them is that they really need these shorter days to start showing and changing their colors through the bracts, which are the showy part of the plant,” he says. Climate control is another key ingredient to keeping these plants at their best. “They’re unhappy in chilly weather, but if you can keep the temperature in the low to mid 70s, they’ll usually last until the end of the holiday season.”

Thanks to your contributions to Como Friends, the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory’s Holiday Flower Show is always free, and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day of the week, including Christmas and New Year’s Day.

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