As the world’s most popular festive plant, responsible for more than 20% of all potted plant sales in America, and with tens of millions sold around Europe each year, the proper care of poinsettias is a matter of serious commercial concern for growers and sellers. Here, Stars for Europe provide some top tips to ensure customers are armed with everything they need to know to ensure their plant outlives the festive season.
Many greenhouse operators throughout Europe are highly dependent upon poinsettias, which not only sell in huge quantities but enable commercial growers to stay fully operational all year long, as poinsettias start to grow when most other high cash crops and plants have stopped flourishing.
The golden rule for poinsettias is to not let them get too cold. Inform customers that they must be kept at a minimum temperature of 15-22 degrees Celsius and protected from cold, preferring a warm, sheltered spot and filtered light.
These sensitive plants can easily be damaged during transportation from the garden center or florist to home, so instruct staff to properly wrap all poinsettias in the paper without leaving any foliage exposed to the elements. Advise customers that even a few minutes of exposure to cold air can terminally damage the leaves, which must be kept well sheltered at all times.
It should, of course, go without saying that an optimum temperature of at least 14 degrees should be maintained in store, with special care being taken during transit and storage prior to the plants being displayed. Display them in a bright and airy position with plenty of natural light, but avoid letting them bake all day in full sunshine in your shop window.
Given the importance of greenhouse temperature to poinsettia production, it is also important for growers to have the right property insurance in order to quickly rectify damage resulting from adverse weather conditions – especially strong winds, snow, and hail-fire or floods. Commercial growers should also invest in in-transit coverage which protects the plants during transportation from greenhouses until they reach their final retail destinations. Retailers should confirm that suppliers have all the proper financial protection in place that will ensure nobody has a major financial upset in the run-up to Christmas.
Water and nutrition
Poinsettias need soil within an optimum ph range of 5.8 to 6.2, such as John Innes 3, using three parts soil to one part grit so plenty of oxygen can reach the roots.
Advise customers that poinsettias must not be over-watered and left in soggy soil and they should let the compost just start to dry out before light watering, taking care not to soak them. Overwatering can cause poinsettias to be blighted by grey mold and also makes them vulnerable to attack from common pests like mealybugs and scale insects.
Poinsettias prefer humid conditions, so advise your customers to keep them well misted, especially if there is a danger of them gasping for moisture in centrally heated rooms.
Regular fertilization will occur during cultivation because it helps the plants become established and encourages the rapid development of branches after the pinch. Regular fertilization should continue until 2 to 3 weeks before the sale, at which point it should stop. Reducing fertilization at this time helps extend the postharvest life of the plants and prevents injury to the bracts through soluble salts.
For more information:
Stars for Europe