Poinsettias: The Floral Equivalent of Veal




Christmas 2006: I buy a gorgeous red poinsettia plant. I’ve never had one. They were definitely a luxury we did without growing up. I always thought they were so festive, and $5 at Safeway seems like something I can swing. I get way, way more than $5 worth of joy from it.


January 2007: The Christmas decorations come down. The fake tree goes back in its box. I start to throw the poinsettia away. I realize that would be a silly waste of a perfectly good plant. Plus, I want to see how long these things can actually last. (I guess I had kind of thought it would disappear in a poof of mysterious smoke after its Christmas usefulness was gone.)


February 2007: The last of the red leaves falls off. They are replaced by luscious new dark green ones.


July 2007: Still going. We go away on vacation. I instruct husband to water it, as he’s going home a week earlier than I am. He forgets/gets distracted/doesn’t give a rat’s ass. I come home to a decrepit little green stalk, draped in shriveled leaves. I think that we had a good run, and respectfully mourn its passing. For some reason, I water it one last time, just to see what happens.


August 2007: The little bugger is back, and badder than ever.


November 2007: I take mental inventory of Christmas décor. I look to the mantel, and last year’s poinsettia. It is green. Again, I think I assumed that it would turn red in that same, mysterious poof of smoke. I hope for a Christmas miracle, then get distracted.


December 2007: I do a little research on the internet, to see if it is even possible that this little plant will turn red again. Turns out, I should have been putting it in the dark for at least 8 hours a day, starting in October. I had no idea that these plants were so contrived. Locked away, shocked into color by neglect and artifice. I felt bad for all my little poinsettia must have gone through before it got to my house.


I generally don’t have a problem with denying the natural order. I don’t eat organically. I shave my armpits. I use artificial sweeteners. I eat veal. But for some reason, the plucky, can-do spirit of this little plant inspires me.


You can stay green, my leafy friend. Just be yourself.

4 responses to “Poinsettias: The Floral Equivalent of Veal

  1. Hi Ginny,

    I tried to keep a “pointed setter” one year, but I forgot about it in the basement. For three years. It didn’t come back.

    I’d like to hear some of your “growing up” stories some day.

    Happy holidays,

  2. Merry merry, Ginny.

  3. I used to own a flower shop, I loath poinsettia, temperamental little beast. They deserve to be kept in the dark!!!

  4. Welcome, uphilldowndale! Also, they just won’t die, even after they’ve become ugly and spindly. Sigh.

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