Poinsettias Jan 10

Poinsettias Jan 10

Mike Stephens
Mike Stephens
News Reporter
For California Ag Today, I’m Mike Stephens

Joel Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, is credited with introducing the plant to this country in 1828.

• The red or otherwise colored bracts frame the plant's actual flowers, which appear as yellow clusters at the center of the bracts. The plant drops its bracts and leaves soon after those flowers shed their pollen. For the longest-lasting poinsettias, choose plants with little or no yellow pollen showing.

• Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not poisonous to humans or pets.

• Poinsettias are not frost- tolerant. They will grow outdoors in temperate coastal climates, such as Southern California beach communities. In the ground, they can reach 10 feet tall.

A major poinsettia grower for 25 years is Rocket Farms. They devote about 3.5 million square feet of greenhouse space to the holiday crop.

Rocket Farms supplies several major California chains, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Costco, Albertsons and Save Mart.

In addition, the Salinas grower supplies poinsettias to eight certified farmers markets and scores of nonprofit groups such as churches, youth football teams and school boosters that use poinsettia sales as annual fundraisers.

Poinsettias are the top-selling potted flowering plant in the United States with sales exceeding $256 million in the United States., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

During the six-week holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, more than 75 million poinsettias are sold, far outpacing chrysanthemums and orchids, its next closest competitors.

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