Indoor plant or outdoor shrub
The poinsettia, with its green foliage, red bracts and tiny yellow flowers, has been associated with the birth of Christ since the 17th Century, when Spanish missionaries south of Mexico City started using it in their Nativity celebrations. Soon they became known as Flores de Noche Buena (Flowers of the Holy Night). In 1825, Joel Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, brought a few back to his South Carolina plantation to start as greenhouse Christmas plants, hence the common name.
Florist shops and garden centers are now stocked to overflowing with all sizes of poinsettias for the Christmas season.
Several varieties of red poinsettias are available; the toughest, Everlasting Star, with ruby-red bracts and dark-green foliage, will hold on to all of its leaves longer than other varieties. It was developed--as were the pink and white varieties--by Paul Ecke Poinsettia Ranch in Encinitas, producer and distributor of poinsettias since the 1920s.
In searching for a poinsettia to bring home for the holidays, look for healthy green foliage that grows all the way down to the soil line; this indicates that the roots are healthy. A plant in its prime has, in the center of the colored bracts, small green buttons that will become the actual flowers of the poinsettia.