RALEIGH, N.C.-- Nothing says Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas like poinsettia plants.
In the state of North Carolina, it also means money and status. According to a news release from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the six-week period leading up to Christmas is the busiest season for state poinsettia growers and in 2012 North Carolina generated $17.6 million in sales. In all growers sold 4.4 million of the festive plants.
Made in Triad: Poinsettia
"North Carolina not only ranks second in the country in Christmas tree sales, we also rank second in poinsettia sales," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "Many people in our state and nationally celebrate the season surrounded by decorations grown right here in North Carolina."
Poinsettias are grown in a greenhouse at temperatures above 60 degrees. Christmas starts early in the greenhouse, as poinsettias are grown from cuttings that began in the summer months.
Picking the perfect poinsettia
John Dole, horticultural science professor at N.C. State University, offers the following advice:
- Choose a poinsettia that has fresh-looking bracts, which are the modified colored leaves.
- Look for small flowers in the center of the plant, if these have fallen off it could indicate it's an older poinsettia.
- Red poinsettias should have healthy, dark green foliage, and the white or pink poinsettias leaves should be a lighter green.
Caring for your poinsettia
Dole says, poinsettias are highly sensitive to cold weather. You should transport them in a large shopping bag to protect them from temperatures below 50 degrees.
At home, water your poinsettia when the soil is dry.
Cold temperatures and overwatering will cause your plant to wilt. Wilted plants will drop their leaves quicker, and once a poinsettia wilts, it's too late to stop the damage.
A common myth is that poinsettia's are poisonous to people and animals. While ornamental plants, such as poinsettias, are not intended for human or animal consumption, they are not considered poisonous, Dole explained.