Poinsettias are quite possibly the most widespread plant of the holiday season - other than the Christmas tree itself, of course. According to Farmers' Almanac, poinsettias are associated with Christmas because "of a story of how a poor Mexican girl gathered weeds on the side of the road and as she placed them at the feet of the Christ Child they blossomed into bright red flowers."
Ornamental horticulturalists at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Overton, Texas, are conducting trials to determine the best growing temperatures for the popular perennial.
In September, more than 30 varieties of poinsettias were placed in two separate greenhouses - one set at 72 degrees and the other set at 82 degrees.
It was observed that the plants in the higher temperature greenhouse did not develop as many bracts as quickly as those in the lower temperature, and some were not flowering by December 9. Bracts provide the poinsettias with their distinct vibrant colors, changing from green to red as the plant grows.
By looking at the effect of higher temperatures on poinsettia growth, the researchers hope to eventually create a more heat-tolerant variety that can be grown in Texas and other warm climates.