Christmas poinsettias on display: Christmas flower shows in bloom

A quick way to catch the holiday spirit is a wander through a holiday flower show. Photo: Susan McKee/ Christmas Poinsettias in Bloom at Flower Shows

WASHINGTON, December 8, 2013 — ‘Tis the season for holiday flower shows, and the flower of choice is the poinsettia. Purists know the colorful “petals” are really leaves, but no matter. That bright red and green is just what we need to brighten our spirits and set the tone for Christmas decor.

The traditional poinsettia is red, but there are more than 100 varieties of  Euphorbia pulcherrima with bracts in white, various shades of pink and burgundy. They can be all one color, marbled, speckled or edged in a different color.

In its native habitat, Mexico and Central America, it is a perennial shrub that can be 10 to 15 feet tall. Grafted and tweaked and tended and raised in a greenhouse for indoor use, it’s most familiar as a compact plant covered in blooms.

Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779-1851), a botanist and physician as well as the first American minister to Mexico,  introduced the poinsettia plant to the United States in the early 1830s. Needless to say, it’s English name derives from his.

And, just in case you were wondering, the poinsettia is the most widely tested consumer plant on the retail market, according to Grower Direct. Research conducted by Ohio State University has proven the poinsettia to be non-toxic to both humans and pets. All parts of the plant were tested, including the leaves and sap. Besides, it tastes so bitter your toddler is more likely to spit it out than swallow it.

If you are in the eastern United States, here are some holiday flower displays to check out:

The 125th annual poinsettia show at the Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, 3100 Swann Drive, Baltimore, Maryland, runs through December 29, 2013. Hundreds of  specimens of every color, size, and shape are on view as if in a Victorian Parlor. Winter Rose, Tapestry, Ice Punch, Shimmer Surprise, Strawberries & Cream, and Fireworks are just a few of the varieties of poinsettias on display, complete with a decorated tree and Victorian-style train garden.

Model trains, of course, are a frequent addition to holiday flower displays. They will be joined by dinosaurs during the winter flower show at Phipps Conservatory, 700 Frank Curto Drive, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Open through January 12, 2014, it includes with not only flowers and trains but also a light show.

Thousands of holiday flowers will brighten the Buffalo Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Avenue, Buffalo, New York, through January 5, 2014, during their annual Poinsettia Show.

In the Midwest, check out the Holiday Flower show through January 6, 2014, at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, 1225 Estabrook Drive, St. Paul, Minnesota. The Christmas Beauty Nostalgia poinsettia with its with its pink-and-green bracts will be featured here.

The Holiday Poinsettia Show in the Luthy Botanical Garden, 2520 North Prospect, Peoria, Illinois, is open through December 3, 2013. 

More than 5,600 poinsettia plants — multi-hued, deep red, sparkling white and speckled — are grown in Lauritzen Gardens’ greenhouses starting as early as July for the annual holiday show in Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft Street, Omaha, Nebraska, running through January 5, 2014. This year’s exhibit includes a 20-foot-tall poinsettia tree, decorated holiday trees, antique sleighs and several passenger and freight model trains.

The usual holiday flower show at the Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 North Central Park Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, remains a bit smaller than normal (repairs continue on the Show House). This year it’s in the Horticulture Hall through January 5, 2014.

Poinsettias named “Eggnog,” “Sparkling Punch,” and “Ice Punch” are all blended together with “Peppermint Twist” and “Ruby Frost” varieties at the Winter Flower Show in Lincoln Park Conservatory, 2391 North Stockton Drive, Chicago, Illinois. It is blooming through January 6, 2014.


Interested in learning more about flower shows and other plant displays? Check out You can read more by Susan McKee on her website,


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Susan McKee

Susan McKee honed her craft as a general assignment reporter for more than a decade at a major metropolitan daily newspaper before fleeing corporate journalism for the peripatetic life of a freelancer. She's since been to every continent (except Antarctica) and has written about her adventures for dozens of print and online publication on everything from snorkeling off Malaysia to dog-sledding in Norway to exploring classic Chinese gardens in Suzhou. 


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