A final holiday crop: After 35 years, Weddingtons end poinsettia production

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 15, 2019

John Weddington and family gathered last Saturday for a group photo at their poinsettia greenhouse.  This was a very special photo shoot in that it would be the last picture of the family with their colorful poinsettias as the backdrop.

This is will be the last year of poinsettia production at John Weddington Greenhouses. After 35 years of beautiful and remarkable poinsettias, John and son Curt Weddington have decided this will be their final holiday plant crop.

John began his poinsettia production in 1984 with one greenhouse of just 800 plants. Their production quickly grew to five greenhouses loaded to capacity with more than 11,000 high quality plants. It’s easy to understand the popularity of John Weddington Poinsettias.  These are not just holiday poinsettias — these are florist type poinsettias, perfectly shaped, with a seemingly endless array of brilliant colors, sizes and shapes.

Alice Weddington makes bows and wraps the pots in foil.
Photo by Darrell blackwelder

At least half of their holiday crop is hand wrapped in green or gold foil, folded for crisp edges with a hand-made bow carefully decorated by wife, Alice Weddington. Son Kurt began his career with John Weddington Greenhouses in 2003.

The Weddingtons carefully researched and implemented continual improvements in color, shape, growth habit and trends with constant visits to NC State University greenhouse field trials and poinsettia research trials. Weddington constantly puts into practive innovative growing techniques and new cultivars to produce the perfect holiday plant.

So, why are the Weddingtons deciding to cease growing these beautiful poinsettias? Several factors influenced the decision including labor and time, but a major factor is return on investment.  Poinsettia production begins in early spring with stock plants and then cuttings are nurtured throughout the summer months.  Growers must grow and maintain plants from July until December expending funds for labor, fertilizer, pest control, etc. These plants take valuable greenhouse production space for 6 months.

Son Kurt began his career with John Weddington Greenhouses in 2003.
Photo by Darrell Blackwelder

Unfortunately, a 5-dollar poinsettia in 1984 is still 5 dollars today because the price of the plants has not increased with inflation. The 5-dollar poinsettia John sells today should be priced at $12.50 to keep up with inflation. Increasing costs make poinsettias a very difficult crop to produce, with little or no profit margin.

John expresses his thanks and gratitude to all his loyal customers for their patronage over the many years. Obviously, this was not an easy decision. His floral Christmas poinsettias will truly be missed. However, Weddington Greenhouses will continue to produce high quality bedding plants. They will be gearing up in early 2020 for next year’s season of colorful bedding plants.

Darrell Blackwelder deblackw@ncsu.edu is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.