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Euphorbia pulcherrima

Euphorbia pulcherrima
November – bract color returns
Euphorbia pulcherrima

Common name poinsettia
Family euphorbiaceae
Life cycle tender perennial/shrub (Z9-11)
Flowers yellow, with red bracts
Size to 10'
Light sun-part shade
Cultural notes ordinary garden soil

This holiday favorite, sold by the millions as indoor potted plants around Christmas, is a shrub in real life. Even in the Houston area it won't grow to its full potential, though, because even minor freezes kill off the top growth. Still, I decided to plant our holiday leftovers in the back yard to see how they'd do – mostly expecting to see them rapidly become rangy or stop flowering, and because I was curious how big they'd grow in the span of a growing season. I figured it might not be very big at all, if the commercial varieties are selected to stay small. But they certainly grow larger than their holiday container form, as shown in the photo at right, taken in late June, and the November photo above. The green leaves have overtaken the colorful bracts by June, but are attractive in their own right, even if they are vaguely reminiscent of poison ivy leaves. By the second half of November, the bracts are once again turning red, and the whole plant contrasts marvellously with its pale caladium neighbor. I wonder if it will live through the winter?

Nice and green in June
Euphorbia pulcherrima
Damaged by a mild freeze in December

In our garden, this plant grows in the following area: foundation border

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Last modified: December 16, 2017
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