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.”
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!