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When it comes to the holiday season’s most gorgeous florals, poinsettias ho-ho-hold the line

Heather Arndt Anderson  – October 29, 2019 | Updated October 30, 2019

Valentine’s Day has its roses, Easter has its lilies, and poinsettia (Euphiorbia pulcherrima ) is the undisputed star of Christmas. Though the plant is native to Mexico, the showy poinsettia varieties we know and love today were created right here in the West. German farmer Albert Ecke began breeding poinsettias in Los Angeles in 1909; following in his father’s footsteps, Paul Ecke founded the world’s first poinsettia nursery in Encinitas, California, back in the early 1920s. Thanks to the diligent efforts of the Eckes, poinsettias aren’t just red and green anymore—the Christmas flower now comes in a wide array of salmon pink, peach, and a wild range of variegations. Though Ecke Ranch was sold to a Dutch grower back in 2012, the site is still home to the largest poinsettia growing and breeding operation in the world. 

Some of the poinsettia varieties here are available for purchase, but many of these exciting new varieties are still under development; detailed notes about different varieties’ growth trials can be found here. What follow are a few of the newer poinsettia varieties that are filling us with holiday cheer.

‘Ice Punch’

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This crimson or cranberry-pink specimen is streaked with a splash of ice, making this one of the most striking poinsettia varieties we’ve ever seen—like a peppermint stick that’s been on a crying jag. With its striking appearance and high vigor, Ice Punch was justifiably designated of the Best of the Trials by North Carolina State University’s horticulture department. ‘Ruby Frost’ comes in a very close second.

‘Autumn Leaves’

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This mid-season, vibrant orange poinsettia is a perfect bridge from Thanksgiving to Christmas. It’s kind of a wimpy plant, but it’s so pretty that you might forgive its delicate constitution. ‘Orange Spice’ is another spectacular orange variety. 

‘Winter Rose Marble’

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This poinsettia variety has the pink and cream variegation we love, plus the double ruffle effect on the bracts, looking just like a ribbon on a Christmas present. 

‘Red Glitter’

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With white-speckled red bracts and variegated leaves, this pretty jingle-type poinsettia is doing the absolute most. ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ is a close match, with white blazes along with the speckles; that variety exhibits a high amount of sporting (individual bracts revert back to solid colors). 

‘Viking Cinnamon’

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This exquisite mid-season variety looks like a box of rosé with a nosebleed, and we are here for it. ‘Freedom Peppermint‘ is a peachier variety with the same speckling. 

‘Golden Glow’

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One of the new poinsettia varieties for 2019, this warm-creamy number is the holiday-appropriate color of eggnog. It’s relatively heat-tolerant, so you can even display it near a fireplace or wood stove.

‘Princettia Hot Pink’

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Of all the pink poinsettia varieties, we love how perfect this sassy, hot pink baby looks paired with a silver tinsel tree for the ultimate mid-century modern Hollywood vibe. For a slightly warmer, solid hot pink with a thin white sliver along the edges, ‘Luv U Pink’ and ‘Amaris Pink’ are other gorgeous choices. 

‘Sparkling Punch’

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This pale pink version of ‘Ice Punch’ is too pretty not to include on its own; it’s an early bloomer of medium vigor, fading to more solid pink as the season wears on.

‘Polar Bear’

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‘Polar Bear’ is one of those rare pure white poinsettia varieties that breeders worked on for years to achieve; ‘Premium White’ is another that comes pretty close to true white, but most tend toward creamy-white, or pale green, like ‘Envy.’

‘Christmas Glory Pink’

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This one comes with eraser-pink bracts with darker red veins, and some bracts that sometimes sport red.

‘Visions of Grandeur’

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This belle of the ball is huge and flouncy, a mid-season bloomer with high vigor. Pale, golden-pink bracts mature to peach, looking like a debutante. 

Poinsettia Care Tips

Temperature: Protect from drafts and sudden temperature changes and keep away from wood stoves, active fireplaces, and heater vents.

Light: Display plants where they’ll get plenty of bright, indirect light. 

Water: Keep the soil evenly moist. Give the plants a drink whenever the top half-inch of soil dries out.

Fertilize: Apply half-strength liquid fertilizer every two weeks.

After the Holidays

Poinsettia leaves drop in late winter or early spring. Although the plants are tender perennials, getting them to rebloom takes a strict regimen―14 hours of complete darkness every night and up to 10 hours of daylight every day for 10 weeks (starting in early October). Rather than tackling this or tossing them out, keep them around for their green foliage. Cut back plants to two buds, reduce watering, and store in a cool place indoors until danger of frost has passed—in summer the plants look refreshing in patio pots.