Posted by
Doug Hart

The Art of Growing Poinsettias

What do most Poinsettia growers want for Christmas? Not Poinsettias! 

Don’t get me wrong, I do like them, but come mid November it is time to send them on their way since their journey began back in late May. That’s right, over 5 months ago the process started! Who wants to think about Christmas in June? I have to because as a greenhouse operator it’s really the only crop to produce for that time frame.

Poinsettias are probably the most challenging crop we grow each year. Between the long crop time and the demands that these plants put on a grower. That darn plant can be very demanding. During the growing time, if you don’t keep the proper nutrition level, Poinsettias will actually cannibalize themselves by pulling nutrient out of the oldest foliage for the sake of the youngest growth. OUCH! Also if you let the calcium levels drop too far, the Bracs (flowers) will burn. First things first…

The myth that Poinsettias are poisonous. They are NOT! A 50 lb child would need to consume over 100 of my 6” plants to become sick. According to the American Medical Association, no deaths or serious injuries have ever been reported. This old wives tale has been around since 1919.

Yes, Poinsettias have been around a long time. The Aztec King Montezuma highly prized them. If you have ever had the opportunity to visit a tropical place, like Central America or Hawaii, you’ve probably seen them flowering in the wild.

The Poinsettia got its name from Joel Poinsett in 1825. Joel was the US Ambassador to Mexico and an avid botanist with a greenhouse. Do I need to say more? Probably the next biggest influence in getting you a great potted plant out of this big tropical bush was the Ecke family, from San Diego California. Since 1902 the Ecke Ranch has lead the world in refining these plants. Thru generations of breeding the red Poinsettia now comes in many colors. San Diego even hosts the Poinsettia Bowl in December.

I start shipping the first week of November and the majority of the 25,000 six inch, 5000 eight inch and 10,000 four inch Poinsettias that we grow are headed to 22 Metro Area Fred Meyers. Look at the sticker on the pot cover to see if it is one of ours. We take a lot of pride in the crops we grow and for two years running we’ve been picked as Fred Meyer’s best Poinsettia grower! Fred Meyer comes in with their inspector and tape measure to see if you have reached their specifications. It is always a relief when that day is over! There are a lot of days in June that something could go wrong, so it is really nice to reach the finish line in one piece.

We like to think that we are the “Home of the Happy Poinsettia”. Look for a good Poinsettia and educate yourself on what that means. A Poinsettia should have good “Brac expansion” (the colored part of the plant).The leaves should be green to dark green, healthy looking. When you get your plant home find a spot with a least a little bit of light, the more the better. Also no sudden blasts of cold air, like next to the door. Remember where this plant comes from, tropical climates. The best temperature in your home is between 65 and 72 degrees. Regarding water, you should only water when needed. Check moisture by putting your finger in the soil, if the soil is not moist, remove the pot cover and thoroughly water it, let it drain and wait until the soil feels dry before watering again. Normally yellowing of lower leaves means it has gotten too dry.

It makes all of us at Harts Nursery feel good to know that you’ve chosen to make us a part of your holiday home! THANK YOU!

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