Last Updated: December 30, 2020

A white poinsettia one year after being rescued

My wife likes to justify her post-Christmas bargain hunting by bringing home an abused and deeply-discounted Christmas plant for me to save.

Sometimes it’s a rosemary trimmed in the shape of a little Christmas tree, an easy save, sometimes it’s a spruce, a plant wholly unsuited for San Diego’s desert climate and therefore a hard save. Usually though, it’s a poinsettia, which is an easy save unless you make it hard.

San Diego is basically America’s poinsettia capitol. Every town in the county has at least one street named “Poinsettia” and a plant grower who specializes in them. As such, we’re inundated with excess plants after Christmas. The standard ones with red bracts are kind of blase because people grow them as garden plants here. It’s the rare hybrids and unusual varieties — varigated, pink, burgundy, white, etc. — growers test locally before taking them national that are interesting.

Being products of the greenhouse, these poinsettia hybrids don’t deal well to the variability of outdoor conditions — even in San Diego’s famously non-variable weather — so they’re as difficult to save here as they are anywhere else. I know. I’ve already lost 5 or 6.

Anyway, the week after Christmas last year, the Mrs. brought home a very distressed poinsettia she had picked out of a trash bin whose contents had been a garden center display the day before. It was maybe 4 inches tall and had just two green leaves and one greenish-white bract left on it. I didn’t think it would survive, but I put in a sunny spot the family room with the succulents on the off chance it might.

The white bract fell off a week later, but the two green leaves hung in there until spring when new ones began to emerge. By late spring I had to transfer it to a larger pot and by early fall it was showing signs of new bracts. Early this December it started to put on a real show.

This is the rescued poinsettia now, just two week shy of its one year dumpster rescues anniversary. Very happy indeed.