The Secret Lives of Poinsettias

2013 Poinsettias at Nursery

Every year approximately 800 poinsettias magically appear to bring seasonal cheer to our community.

One of the elves in the City of Victoria greenhouses offered a glimpse into the love and special care that brings these poinsettias to life each year.

Each January the elves flip through catalogues dedicated entirely to poinsettias.  Did you know there are hundreds of different varieties, with new hybrids offered each year? The order is placed and in July, boxes of delicate cuttings arrive.

These cuttings get their start to life in a cool, shaded environment.  A few months later they are moved into greenhouses where they continue to grow vigorously.  By October they have become full sized plants, but they are fairly unrecognizable, as they are entirely green.


As the poinsettias grow, little armies of friendly bugs are released by the elves to fend off damaging insects.  This is an example of integrated pest management, similar to how ladybugs are released in Downtown Victoria each spring to control aphids.

Did you know you can look to poinsettias to tell when the fall equinox is?  Poinsettias only begin turning colour when there is equal part night and day.  As the days get darker- just when we need cheering most – they will transform into the beautiful, warm plants that we love.

Looking for a tip when helping to choose a poinsettia for your home?  The only flower on the poinsettia is actually yellow.  The cyathia is a small yellow burst of colour in the centre of each stem.  Look for cyathia that are still in their bud form – these plants will stay fresh longer.


When in your home, poinsettias enjoy a warm environment.  They dislike drafts and bright light.  Let them dry their roots before each watering.

One last tidbit from the elves, contrary to popular belief, these cheery plants aren’t as toxic as many think they are.  They can cause skin irritations, but shouldn’t be as feared as they are.


When you visit a community center, the Crystal Pool, the police station, the Victoria Conference Centre, City Hall or our fire halls watch for displays of this year’s red, white, pink and ‘white glitter’ varieties.


One thought on “The Secret Lives of Poinsettias”

  1. Thank you for providing this information, it is very helpful to know what to look for when purchasing/caring for a poinsettia plant. It is also good to know how they come to be so beautiful with all the hard work the Parks staff put into making sure they are ready to adorn the many City facilities.

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