POMEROY — Poinsettias, sometimes called the Christmas star, have long been used to decorate churches, businesses and homes for the holiday season.
Just as we decorate altars and sanctuaries today, more than 150 years ago it was being done in Mexico. In fact, it was while Joe Poinsett was serving there as an American ambassador that he attended a church service on Christmas Eve where the altar was lined with red flowering plants.
The story goes that he was so impressed with the beauty of the flowers that he gathered up some seeds and brought them back to America. People here so loved the bright red color of the flowers they grew from those seeds that they named the plant after Poinsett.
Today poinsettias dominate floral displays at Christmas everywhere. In Meigs County thousands of poinsettias are grown in greenhouses and sold not only here but across the state.
Today in most every church, you’ll find poinsettias contributing to the beauty of sanctuary decorations. Many will line altars, some will be placed in windows, and others will be creatively placed in clusters. Trinity Congregational Church displays their poinsettias in a unique way. They create a 20 -foot Christmas tree with 107 poinsettias enhanced with tiny white lights. A wooden structure with hinged platforms all around built by Donnie Mayer about 20 years ago holds the plants which create a striking display in the church sanctuary.
Now, since many of us use poinsettias to enhance our home decorations, you need to know that properly cared for they can go right through Valentine’s Day, even longer, looking lovely….that is if you selected a fresh plant to begin with.
Fresh plants have closed little yellow flowers in the center and they should be tight and not showing too much color. The foliage which provides the color for the plant should have some green leaves considerably above the soil line.
Since the poinsettia is a native of Mexico, which means it does not like December’s cold weather, it needs protection from the chills as you take it home from wherever you bought it. When looking for the right place to set it, select a location where it can get several hours of sunshine each day, and be sure it doesn’t touch a cold window pane or be in the line of a draft.
Over-watering is the most common cause of a poinsettia dying before its time. They should be watered only when the soil is dry to the touch, and then just enough for some water to drain from the hole in the bottom of the pot, advises Hal Kneen of the Meigs County Extension Office.