Simply Red

We can’t get enough of poinsettias—real, faux, or crafted. Explore the beauty of the tropical plant that warms our coldest months.


By KATY KIICK CONDON
Photos by ADAM ALBRIGHT PRODUCED BY JESSICA THOMAS CRAFTING BY KIM HUTCHISON

High Impact

Poinsettia bracts (the technical name for the colorful leaves) are showstoppers when cut for arrangements. Display them in little glasses, but first dab away the sap and burn the ends with a lighter; this keeps the water clear and makes bracts last longer (about two or three days). For an easy centerpiece that stays lush all season, group small poinsettias in their pots in a low bowl.

Red is just the beginning

Crimson may say Christmas, but a coral or yellow poinsettia looks right from fall through New Year's. Try these off-the-beaten-path varieties:

  • 'Majestic Pink'
  • 'Gold Rush'
  • 'Love U Hot Pink'
  • 'Peppermint Ruffles'
  • 'Classic White'
  • 'Envy.'

“There are two camps at the holidays,” says Angela Mekjian of Dümmen Orange, growers of more than 60 million poinsettias each year. “One is the traditional decorator. But for the more trendy or edgy among us, there are the spangled, spotted, and vibrant colors.”

Too pretty to Open

On second thought, these gift toppers might warrant skipping the wrapping paper altogether. Layers of heavy-weight crepe paper create bracts with plenty of body. Lightly brushing on glitter glue gives the paper a light curl when dry. A mix of gold and silver glitter forms the center.

How-to on page 136 of the full December 2016 issue of Better Homes & Gardens.

Make an Entrance

A felt wreath in a full complement of reds, pinks, and peaches gives a warm welcome. We used food coloring to dye wool felt to mimic the variegation of a few new plant varieties, but try solid red to keep it more traditional. We attached the dyed felt bracts to a wreath form and added pom-poms as the centers.

How-to on page 136 of the full December 2016 issue of Better Homes & Gardens.

The in crowd

Poinsettia bracts shine when mixed with flowers of similar hues and varied textures. Here ‘Majestic Pink’ and ‘Peppermint Ruffle’ mingle with anemone, roses, and viburnum berries. Frosty-looking dusty miller winterizes the mix.