Darrell Blackwelder: Pretty poinsettias offer an annual holiday plant that’s always popular

Published 12:10 am Saturday, December 10, 2022

By Darrell Blackwelder

For the Salisbury Post

Poinsettias are undoubtedly a holiday favorite — a standard decoration for our Christmas holiday season.

Seniors from Rufty-Holmes Senior Center in Salisbury had the opportunity to visit Patterson Farms last week to view the production of their beautiful poinsettias. The group was amazed as they walked into a vast array of colors and beauty throughout the greenhouses.

For over 40 years, Patterson Farms in China Grove has produced high quality poinsettias. Growing them begins with rooted cuttings in August. For four months, these high-maintenance plants are meticulously pampered throughout the growing season to produce high quality holiday plants. Now is the peak season for poinsettias and they are available at many greenhouses and retail outlets.

Patterson’s Greenhouses and other producers throughout the county work tirelessly to bring holiday shopper beautiful plants.

If you have questions about this popular holiday plant, check out these fun facts about poinsettias:

• Poinsettias were introduced in 1825 as a gift from the ambassador to Mexico. Poinsettias are a major floral crop in the fall and are grown by several Rowan County greenhouse producers.

• Red is the favorite poinsettia color, however, there are a virtual rainbow of colors ranging from deep purples to creamy whites showcasing 92 different varieties of colors, shapes and blends.

• Poinsettias are photoperiodic plants that respond in both color and growth with daylengths or the amount of total light received. The chlorophyll (green color) gradually disappears, revealing other color pigments from waning daylight hours in early September.   

• Locate your poinsettia in indirect sunlight for at least six hours per day. If direct sun can’t be avoided, diffuse the light with a shade or sheer curtain.

• Poinsettias need to be placed in cool locations maintaining room temperatures between 68-70 degrees.

• Poinsettia bracts and foliage are not toxic to humans; however, the holiday plants are mildly toxic to cats and dogs. These plants are intended for ornamental purposes only. The myth of these as poisonous plants has persisted since the early 1900s.    

• Poinsettias are a great buy for the amount of time and care that goes into their production. These plants are produced as a disposable crop and most people toss them after they decline following the holiday season.

• If you would like to keep the plants, treat them as normal houseplants until the next holiday season. 

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