Thursday, December 17th, 2015

How to love your Shelmerdine-grown poinsettia

How to love your Shelmerdine-grown poinsettia

More than 14,000 poinsettia plants come into full bloom in our greenhouses every year—and just in time for the holiday season. This is an exciting time of year for the schools and community groups who raise money through our Poinsettia Fundraising Program as the colourful plants find their way into thousands of homes and churches.

But it’s also an exciting time for our growers, who get to see five months of their hard work and nurturing come to fruition in a grandiose display of bright, vibrant colours before their very eyes.

Poinsettias first arrive in July as rooted cuttings known as ‘plugs.’ We grow more than 20 fashion varieties in our greenhouses, the most popular of which is—you guessed it—a crimson-coloured variety called Prestige Red. Meanwhile, a close second contender is our Red Glitter variety, also commonly called Jingle Bells. But you won’t find our growers choosing favourites.

According to owner Chad Labbe and head grower Steph Walker: “They feel like babies that we get to nurture to maturity. Poinsettias take more than five months to grow, so we get really intimate with this crop.”

“Our favourite part about growing the poinsettia crop is the time we get to spend with them.”

Both Chad and Steph agree: It’s easy to get attached to this crop.

“The amount of control we have over how they turn out is far greater than any other crop; through lighting and fertilization methods, we can control the plant’s height, spread, how many bracts it will have, and when it will ripen into colour,” Chad explains. “We set height targets for poinsettias and then measure them throughout their growth cycle so that they’ll be the perfect size for the holiday season.”

satin flower girl dresses

And the day that the poinsettia bracts—or leaves—begin to turn from green into shades of burgundies, reds, pinks and whites is one Chad and Steph hold their breath for. It’s around early November that the greenhouses turn from a field of green into a carpet of colour—or, perhaps more accurately, a carpet of Euphorbia pulcherrima, meaning “beautiful euphorbia” in ancient Latin.

But in Spanish, these plants are known as flor de nochebuena, meaning “flower of Christmas Eve.” As old lore goes, in its native land of Mexico one Christmas Eve, this plant emerged in the hands of a poor child who had no gift to present before the altar of the Virgin and the Child. As she wept along the way to the church with no gift in tow, an angel appeared and asked her to pick the weeds from the roadside. Upon arriving at the altar, crimson flowers appeared on every stem.

And yet, it’s not all fun and folklore.

“The biggest challenge of this crop is keeping the plants perfectly on target and making adjustments as we go,” Labbe notes.

Once brought home, the challenge becomes ensuring these poinsettias are kept out of drafts, yet away from too much heat. These plants like an evenly moist—but not wet—soil; water should be allowed to flow freely through the pot, then thoroughly drained.

For more information, see our complete guide of Chad and Steph’s personal poinsettia care tips.

We hope our poinsettias bring warmth and holiday cheer to your home. Happy holidays and a joyous season from our families to yours!

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Winter Whites: Forcing Bulbs Indoors

Winter Whites: Forcing Bulbs Indoors

Amid all this bustle of the holiday season, it’s nice to know some things in life can still be as simple and delightful as growing your own paperwhites. As the most fragrant member of the Narcissus or daffodil family of bulbs, paperwhites are coveted for their distinctive sweet smell, which will permeate any room.

The process of transforming these little bulbs into fragrant, dainty white ruffles of petals perched atop long shoots of green is called “forcing” – and, unlike the name suggests, it is easy. These grow anywhere from one to two inches per day and need no more than three inches of root room to send up their shoots and bloom.

And you can let your creativity bloom with them

Get creative by using any unique vessels and containers you may have around the house; teacups, coffee canisters, jewelry boxes, mason jars – anything will work as long as it’s water-tight.

In just three steps (can you believe it?!), you can take your paperwhites from bulb to full bloom – and keep any room filled with a floral aroma that can’t be ignored. This is our simple three-step guide to forcing your own paperwhite bulbs.

  1. Find a container about three inches deep (or deeper) and fill with any porous media. Our favourites are clean pebbles, tumbled beach glass, or glass marbles. Your choice of media needs only to support and secure the roots in place as the plant will become top-heavy as it grows.
  2. Plant the bulbs root-down with the pointed shoot facing upwards. The top inch of each bulb should be visible above the surface of the soil (or alternative media). Plant these bulbs in close proximity to one another for a particularly immaculate presentation.
  3. Just add water! Add enough to moisten only the very bottom of the bulbs’ roots and continue to water as needed. Because they grow so quickly, these bulbs are thirsty! Don’t let them dry out. Place the planter in the brightest area of your home. Pro tip: More light will result in stronger, sturdier stems. Within just a couple of weeks, you’ll be enjoying the sweet aroma of these scented paperwhites in any room of the home.

And at only $1.09 per bulb, a few paperwhites may just be the creative, cost-effective, and thoughtful holiday gift idea you were hoping you’d find. Happy planting!

Hours of Inspiration




Shelmerdine Garden Centre Ltd.

7800 Roblin Boulevard
Headingley, MB R4H 1B6

Phone: 204.895.7203
Fax: 204.895.4372
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