Originally created 11/29/06

Rush for the red



Judy Sanderlin says the rush will be on for poinsettias starting next week.

Ms. Sanderlin, the owner of Sanderlin Green Houses in Appling, which grows its own poinsettias for the Christmas holiday, said some shoppers already have purchased the brilliant red plants, but most will do so starting Monday.

"Next week will be the big one," she said.

Ms. Sanderlin said she grows poinsettias inside greenhouses from pot-rooted cuttings delivered from California. This year, she said, she has 6,500 of the seasonal plants.

"They're coloring up real nice now," she said, adding that the growing process was started in August.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the poinsettia is the most popular Christmas plant and the No. 1 flowering potted plant in the country. The USDA also says that the wholesale value of the country's poinsettia crop last year was nearly $170 million, a 400 percent increase from 1976.

When it comes to maintenance, Ms. Sanderlin said the poinsettia is temperamental, preferring warmer, indoor temperatures and watering about once every three days.

"They have to be warm and usually comfortable where you are, and they have to be lightly moist. They don't like to get real dry, but they don't like to sit in water either," Ms. Sanderlin said.

Although next week will see the greatest demand for poinsettias, she said procrastinators will have chances after that.

"We should have a good stock all the way up until around the 20th of December," Ms. Sanderlin said.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

ALL ABOUT POINSETTIAS

PICKING THEM


- Choose a plant with dark green foliage down to the soil line.


- The plant should be 2 times taller than the diameter of the container.


- Do not buy plants that are displayed in sleeves.


- Do not buy plants that have been crowded close together.


- If the soil is wet and the plant is wilted, this could be an indication of root rot.


CARING FOR THEM


- Place the poinsettia in indirect light. Six hours of light daily is ideal.


- Keep poinsettias away from drafts.


- Ideally poinsettias require daytime temperatures of 60 to 70F and night temperatures of about 55F.


- Check the soil daily. Be sure to punch holes in foil so water can drain into a saucer. Water when soil is dry.

DID YOU KNOW?


- In 1825, the poinsettia was named after Joel Robert Poinsett, who introduced the plant to the United States after noticing it in its native southern Mexico habitat while he served as the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico.


- Congress has adopted Dec. 12 as National Poinsettia Day.

Sources: The U.S. Department of Agriculture, www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/poinsettia/selecting.html