Poinsettias are popular flowers around Christmas. Before you think it’s just the colors, though, put yourself in the boots of a greenhouse grower— and think again!
If you yourself are a grower, you might be well aware already of the benefits of growing greenhouse poinsettias and why they’re all the rage in the winter months up here in the Northern Hemisphere. Besides beauty, there’s great profits to be had— and beauty and profits are obviously connected! Poinsettias are a $250 million dollar industry after all.
But more importantly, when you get into the technical, the real benefit is that you can grow poinsettias during the winter months in greenhouses— at a time when most other high cash crops and plants will refuse to flourish. This can keep greenhouse income coming in and your employees busy.
There’s a good reason why you can get full poinsettia blooms (actually called “bracts,” or colorful modified leaves) right around December, and right in time for Christmas—and here’s why it’s not all about the holiday colors.
Less daylight triggers poinsettia’s beautiful colors
Most flowers bloom in spring, summer, and sometimes, fall. Poinsettias, however, are birds of a completely different feather.
First of all, when they “bloom,” it is actually pigmentation of the poinsettia’s modified leaves or “bracts” that is taking place. This gorgeous discoloration only occurs when daylength drops to between 10 and 12 hours of sunlight per day, which only (naturally) happens in winter. This can bring out far more hues and shades even than the typical Christmas tones: poinsettias come in over 100 distinct colors and varieties besides typical white, red, or green.
The rub: this daylength is only possible while it’s cold, much too cold for poinsettias in most non-equatorial regions. Poinsettias will not grow well at temperatures below 50˚F and must be heated and protected.
While many poinsettias are grown in and exported from tropical areas, for everyone else, this is where greenhouses can come in. With the right heating elements and other fine-tuned equipment for production, poinsettias can be grown just about anywhere, even in harsh winters, just long as they’re kept at the perfect temperature and conditions.
Boost income through the slower winter months
With beautiful potted blooms ready and waiting for winter sales, you’ll be ready to continue an income stream deep into the winter. Keep in mind, however, that the success of this depends on a few factors.
First: be sure that the variety you are growing isn’t patented. Many poinsettia breeds are indeed patented, especially those that are Christmas “themed” and colored. If that’s the case, then you can’t sell poinsettias of this variety commercially (though you can grow it in your greenhouse for personal decoration and enjoyment— you just can’t sell it).
How do you know if the variety is patented? Check the label. If “PP” and a string of numbers is found somewhere near the variety name, then you know it is probably patented (and this is the patent number). If you’re wed to growing this variety— whether from seeds, plugs, or young pre-blooming plants— you can contact the patent owner and sell the variety commercially with their permission and a license.
Grow beyond winter: light deprivation
Why not go all the way and have a year-round poinsettia business? Yes, it’s possible: with light deprivation.
Light deprivation greenhouses seal, protect, and block plants from light exposure for strictly scheduled periods of time every day. This simulates the shorter daylengths that poinsettias will need to develop their signature colors.
This makes poinsettia production possible in the summer, potentially with far less overhead than during the winter (less heating and energy usage). It also opens up far more sophisticated poinsettia production in areas closer to the equator, where daylength may never drop below 10 or 12 hours and thus help these plants produce their stunning appearance.
Poinsettias fetch a good price
What does the market look like for these yuletide blossoms? For this perennial, the market is perennially strong, with a robust demand for poinsettias coming back year after year.
Though minor fluctuations may impact the price and markets of poinsettias now and again, growers have learned that (right on cue), nurseries and gardening centers will line up to get their hands on poinsettias preordered and planted well ahead of Christmas time.
Diversify your business and profits
As we said earlier, someone who has focused on summer greenhouse crops for so long might find a lot of satisfaction (and an uptick in income) expanding into poinsettia production. Those with strong nursery selections already can expand into poinsettias for wintertime income, as well as for giving flower-loving customer bases a little something different—especially during the cold months.
Since poinsettias can be a light deprivation crop, growers may alternate between other light deprivation crops (like cannabis) and poinsettia production using the very same light deprivation greenhouse setup. Growers can also choose to forego growing poinsettias themselves— instead selling semi-mature plants for retail sale and “coloring” them up in their greenhouses on their own. This is widely considered the most profitable choice.
Poinsettias are exquisite blooms that take a lot of work and skill to grow. In most areas, they’ll require a greenhouse. Because of the benefits to greenhouse businesses that they provide— plus their beauty and holiday spirit— growers may want to try these unique seasonal flowers on for size.