Love ’em or hate ’em, it’s hard to escape pyramids of iconic poinsettia plants this time of year. The seasonal red-petaled plant even has its own national holiday, celebrated each December 12, the day that the man who first brought the plants from Mexico to the United States, Joel Robert Poinsett, died.
(Brag your love of gardening with the Organic Life 2018 Wall Calendar, featuring gorgeous photographs, cooking tips and recipes, plus how to eat more—and waste less—of what's in season.)
Though the plant’s green and red color scheme is clearly a factor, there actually doesn’t seem to be any clear connection between poinsettias and Christmas aside from an oft-repeated, but unattributed, Mexican folk story about a girl placing leaves at the feet of the Virgin Mary at a Christmas Eve service, at which time the weeds burst into a brilliant red. In reality, poinsettias have been around since the time of the Aztecs—long before Christianity came to the shores of their native Mexico—when they were used for medicinal purposes and for red dye.
You can green up your home all year round by growing these herbs inside:
Looking for something different this year? There are plenty of other plants that deserve to be a part of your holiday decor. Here are a few festive alternatives if you’re not a poinsettia person.