Poinsettias | Mexico | Living in Mexico


Christmas is less than a month away. In the States, growers have been altering the day/night cycle in their greenhouses to fool this year's crop of poinsettias into throwing their showy red bracts.


Over the years, I've bought countless numbers of these living Christmas decorations. They add spectacular color and a festive air wherever you see them.

Sometimes after New Year's Eve, I've tried to keep one or two alive for the next holiday season, but they always died. Maybe I gave them too much water. Or kept them too warm. Or too cold. Maybe they're just florists' plants propagated for brief display, unable to sustain longer lives.

Maybe they don't like living in gringo-land.

Poinsettias originated in Mexico, where they are called Flor de Nochebuena—the Christmas Eve flower. This time of year, you see them all over, wearing their winter colors.

No tender hothouse plants, these: they grow in the toughest of conditions, becoming as much as ten feet tall.


Finding the beauty of Mexico requires seeing past decay and litter. As I look toward this trashy yard, what catches my eye is not heaps of junk or carcasses of old cars, but brilliant layers of red, elegantly shimmering, somehow enhanced by the drab surroundings.