Information about plants & gardens for Brisbane & Qld



Euphorbia pulcherrima cultivars

Family: Euphorbiaceae

These are familiar garden plants in South East Queensland, but are popular in other parts of the world as potted floral items, especially at Christmas. They normally flower during the short days of the Northern hemisphere winter. If you see poinsettias sold in flower at Christmas in Australia, they have been manipulated to flower at this time (our summer).

The poinsettia industry is huge in America, and you'll easily find information on the internet pertaining to greenhouse production of this crop. However, most SE Qld gardeners will grow them in the ground as easy shrubs which provide a splash of colour in the middle of our winter.

The "flowers" are in fact the coloured bracts which surround the real, insignificant flowers. The most common bract colour is red but breeding has produced a huge range of forms and colours from red through pinks to cream and white.

The potted flowering poinsettia produced for Christmas are usually dwarfed with hormones and will eventually grow large if planted out. A new group of poinsettia hybrids marketed under the Princettia® brand ( are supposedly the first genetically dwarf poinsettias. They come in a range of pinks plus a white (at time of writing). Although they are produced primarily as a potted gift line and there isn't much feedback on their landscape performance yet, they could be tried outside in suitable climates.

In the garden, however large plants may be what are needed. The tall, upright growth (if not pruned again in the middle of the growing season) could suit a fairly narrow position. The foliage has something of a tropical look and if kept nourished and healthy could add to the landscape even when the plant is not in flower.

For the assurance of garden performance, try to source cuttings from old gardens (including the creams and apricot colours which are getting hard to find). The types sold in small pots might not be as well suited to open cultivation if they have been specifically bred as throwaway florist items.

Poinsettias in the Landscape

Poinsettia Poinsettia
Left: developing infloresence and bract coloration in April 2013, Brisbane. In late June 2013, the same plant with fully developed flowers and bracts


poinsettia  poinsettia
Even in late September, Poinsettia may still be putting on a good display in Brisbane

Pruning Poinsettias


Late September 2012, Brisbane: This poinsettia has been already been cut back and are beginning to show new growth.

Even though poinsettias are very sun-tolerant, they can get stressed and sunburned in suddenly heatwaves

More examples of poinsettias in the landscape

poinsettia poinsettia poinsettia

More Online Information

Brisbane's History Brisbane City Council (see note about the choice of the Poinsettia as Brisbane's floral emblem) (PDF)
The Poinsettia: History and Transformation in Chronica Horticulturae, September 2011, International Society for Horticultural Science (PDF)
The Poinsettia NebGuide, University of Nebraska USA
Poinsettias Horticulture Update, Texas A&M University
Poinsettias provide traditional beauty Mississippi State University USA
Euphorbia pulcherrima Trees of Miami, Florida, USA
Beware of Streetlights' Effect On Fall Bloomers Mississippi State University, USA
Poinsettia's True Flowers Are Petal-less Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory, Purdue University
The Wild Poinsettia Page information and images about wild poinsettia in Mexico. The Olson Lab, Instituto de Biologia, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
All About Poinsettias Backyard Gardener column, December 27, 2000. Arizona Cooperative Extension, University of Arizona
Poinsettia Facts and Folklore Backyard Gardener column, December 15, 2004. Arizona Cooperative Extension, University of Arizona
Poinsettia Plant - Is it Poisonous to Pets? Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory, Purdue University
The Poinsettia Phytoplasma on Poinsettia in "Beneficial Plant Pathogens". Discusses the horticulturally beneficial effect this pathogen has on dwarfing and branching. In Chronica Horticulturae, September 2007, International Society for Horticultural Science (PDF)

Possible Misspellings: Poinsetia, Ponsettia, pointsettia, Poincettia, Poincetia, Ponsetia, pointsetia

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