Making my peace with poinsettias

Making my peace with poinsettias
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As you can  imagine, many of my most passionate rants are years in the past, back when we started. You can only inveigh against lawn culture, shake your fist against Big Chem, or rage about cheap resin statuary so many times. Then there the things I’ve ranted against that many people like, including a whole slew of plants that I’ve deemed boring, overused, or just plain ugly. One of these was poinsettia, which abound at this time of year in nurseries and big boxes. (I’ve also seen them as lanky shrubs growing outside in places like Barbados, but that never bothers me.)

However, I must admit that, over the past few years, I’ve been bringing poinsettias home at this season—just for a few weeks. They really have come up with some nice hybrids. I love the soft pink ones, the mottled red and white ones, and the ones with variegated leaves and red bracts (two of these shown above). They look great in groups of three in the one nonworking fireplace—but no shiny foil pot wrappings, please.

I don’t love them enough to try to keep them alive much into January—I take minimal trouble with them in any case—but they’ve become good additions to the rest of my holiday décor, along with a few other little novelty  plants (tiny winterberries and something called Frosty Fern) that I use on mantlepieces and other surfaces. I like to be festive with plants and greenery more than anything else.

I still hate poinsettias that have been spray painted and/or sprayed with glitter. That’s still disgusting. And just wrong. You can’t even compost them.

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on December 1, 2015 at 9:03 am, in the category Everybody’s a Critic, It’s the Plants, Darling.


    • Laura Munoz
    • 13th August 2016

    While I appreciate your mellowing stance toward poinsettias, and I know others think they are wonderful, I still don’t like them. My dislike for them sits alongside my dislike for all agaves.–Now I’m an outcast for sure!

    • admin
    • 13th October 2016

    I used to have the same feeling about poinsettias, until this past year when I somehow managed to keep one alive until spring. I put it outside in a pot and it became one of my favorite foliage plants of the summer. So beautiful!

    • Hil Yeskey
    • 22nd October 2016

    I love and enjoy poinsettias! Enough said.

    • Laura Bell
    • 10th November 2016

    I’ve always loved poinsettias. Will never tolerate the spray-painted or glitter-glued variety, but that goes for all plants.

    • Garden Rant
    • 29th November 2016

    Wow, love that centerpiece!

    • anne
    • 4th December 2016

    Count me among those who never got the poinsettia fever. We need tropical plants at Christmastime because why? Every so often someone will gift me with one, and I will be gracious about it–after all, I get to keep the pot, right? But there is no way that thing is going to survive in my woodstove-heated house, let alone outside. Too fussy for me. I prefer Christmas cactus, and evergreens. My rosemary is blooming right now and smells heavenly!

    • anne
    • 5th December 2016

    And yay! I made it through Captcha–thanks for making it easier!

    • Joe Schmitt
    • 9th December 2016

    In the runup to National Poinsettia Day (, and before casting any more a-spurge-ions, you forb-ier folks ought to bractice a little more holiday spirit.

    • Garden Rant
    • 9th December 2016

    Haha! Too bad we don’t have wacky emoticons for these comments.

    • Jeane
    • 9th December 2016

    For the first time last week I actually saw blue painted poinsettias in the store. It was shockingly weird. I still don’t care much for the paler varieties, only the standard red seems right to me.

    • Susan
    • 9th December 2016

    Elizabeth, please tell me more about the tiny winterberries. Do you simply mean that you cut small tips off of larger branches, or is there actually such a thing as a mini plant?

    • Garden Rant
    • 9th December 2016

    These are tiny plants. However, I don’t think they’re really winterberry–got them at a local nursery.

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