Last week I brought up the seasonal topic of poinsettias. There are so many cultivars to start with, it’ll make your head spin. Twenty five new varieties were introduced in 2009 alone. One
of the major breeders lists 36 RED varieties.
But for painting and glitter, growers
and retailers stick to “white” (actually a very pale yellow to cream –
see last week’s ‘Polar Bear’ post) or possibly light pink. The trend had a good start in Europe and crossed the pond in 2004. I
n 2005, I toured a Denver area greenhouse and saw my first air-brushed point. They were doing a specialty Broncos theme with bracts sprayed deep blue and orange and plopped into a football-shaped pot (with the season Denver’s having this year, I imagine sales are down). The “team colors” theme is everywhere now. Nothing says Christmas like maroon bracts (looked more like dried blood) with orange glitter – the interpretation of a Hokie poinsettia, available at our local Kroger. Different. Please comment if you’ve seen a weirder color combo (are there Steelers ones yet?!).
Nationally, independent garden centers note they can’t keep pigmented points in stock, despite charging upwards of $9 more for a painted 6” point than a regular one.
Blue poinsettias at McDonald’s Garden Center in Virginia Beach – a best-seller.
I’ve not seen any studies determining if the dye alters the post-harvest longevity or not; anecdotal evidence suggests it doesn’t have much effect. Just don’t splash them with water – the dye will run. Growers are careful to paint only mature poinsettias with fully-expanded bracts, or else suffer the poinsettia equivalent of bad roots (a la Lindsey Lohan). One of best-known of the poinsettia painters is at K&W Greenery of Janesville, Wisconsin. The owners have carved out their high-end niche by employing an artist to do the air-brushing and glitter-sprinkling, treating each one as an individual work of art. Art that will die in a heartbeat if you forget to water it, unfortunately. But the mother of all poinsettia growers/retailers in Ellison’s in Brenham, Texas. They’ve turned the season’s opening each year into a hugely successful, candle-lit, wine-pouring party. The Today Show even stopped by a few years ago. The Ellison’s tree photo has been making its rounds on the internet for so long, I don’t even know who to credit.
Fa la la la la (is that enough “la’s”?)
Whether you take your poinsettias painted, straight up, or not at all – happy holidays!