Potted poinsettias are a familiar Christmas decoration
all over the
northern hemisphere, but this native of Mexico is only a garden
plant in frost-free climates.
It makes a rather open shrub up to 12 ft (3.5 m) tall, usually
dropping its leaves as flowering commences.
The broad bracts, which give each flower cluster the appearance of a
single, huge flower, last many weeks.
There are many named cultivars, which extend the color range from
the original blood red to pink and cream.
It is happiest in the tropics, and likes fertile soil and sunshine.
The leaves are large but not especially attractive.
Cultivation: Plant in sun or part-shade in moist, well-drained soil.
Cold tolerance varies greatly depending on the species; the more
highly succulent species are generally frost tender.
Propagate from cuttings, by division or from seed.