With their bright red, pink or white leaves, poinsettias herald the approach of the holiday season. They are beautiful as stand-alone plants or as components of bigger holiday displays. In the United States, poinsettias are grown as indoor potted plants, most in heated greenhouses, but you might be surprised to know that in its native climate, this subtropical species can grow to more than 10 feet tall.
More than 34 million poinsettias are sold each year, accounting for about a quarter of the sales of all flowering potted plants. Even though that may seem like a big money-maker for growers, production is a high-risk venture that has significant start-up costs and requires demanding labor and management. Growers must have a heated greenhouse structure. You can use tobacco greenhouses, but poinsettia production in late summer can compete with labor for tobacco harvest, housing and stripping.
The profit margin for most poinsettia growers is very low because of the highly competitive marketing environment of wholesale and retail markets like local garden centers, florists and grocers, roadside stands, farmer’s markets, fundraisers and direct sales from the farm. Another consideration is the short sale window of about six weeks beginning in early November. Still, growers see a value in producing a crop of poinsettias, because it allows for spreading capital investments over the whole year versus having the greenhouse sit idle during later summer and fall.