Last week I was invited on an annual tour of regional greenhouse operations growing poinsettias.
Seeing some of the millions of poinsettias grown in B.C. for our local market and for export to the United States, I was not only impressed by the numbers grown but also by the quality of the plants. Our growers are to be congratulated for developing such a strong export market in our province.
From the tiniest Pixie single blooms to huge, and I do mean huge – 10-inch and 12-inch pots that I could hardly get my arms around – there was quite a selection. Red varieties dominant the colour selection simply because of tradition, but whites are popular also because they can be dyed and sparkled. Fewer pinks are grown these days.
Some of the newer varieties will add a lot of spice to home decors. One of the favourites is White Glitter, a red variety sprinkled with soft pink speckles. It is very different.
Burgundy varieties are still popular for their designer colour, as is apricot, a pink with soft orange overtones. Picasso is a unique variety the master himself would approve. The really hot new variety is Ice Crystal with its bi-colour white and cherry red bracts.
New also is a ruffled deep red Carousel and a hard-to-find red-flowered variety with yellow and green leaves called Tapestry. A pink and white poinsettia, called Peaches and Cream, has undulated bracts and is another brilliant novelty. There is a wonderful selection out there.
Poinsettias are the number-one flowering plant being grown in North America today, not only because they embrace the holiday season, but they also last so long and are easy to care for.
They love a coolish window area free of any cold drafts and a room temperature of about 15-18°C. The greatest challenge for so many people is when to water and yet it is so simple. Just pick up the pot and feel its weight. If it feels a little light, simply give the plant a good drink of warm water.
Don’t water again until the plant feels light once more. Heavy wet soils are the enemy because poinsettia roots are very sensitive to root rot. You’ll soon get the hang of it.
Poinsettias add so much to our Christmas décor, and they combine well with many other plants to create some unique seasonal combinations. They are ready now to add an instant indoor festive touch.
Brian Minter is a master gardener who operates Minter Gardens in Chilliwack.