What is the holiday season without the beautiful and vibrant plant, the poinsettia? The festive flower is incredibly important to North Carolina as the state ranks second in poinsettia production and sales.
“Poinsettia production in our state has a major impact on the state’s agribusiness and the country’s poinsettia supply,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “I am proud of our state’s research and dedication to poinsettia varieties.”
Most of the larger poinsettia growers are located in Central and Western North Carolina. Poinsettias here in the Tar Heel State are grown in greenhouses, with the largest greenhouse in the country, Metrolina Greenshouses, being located in Huntersville.
Metrolina alone produces nearly 3 million poinsettias annually. “In 2016, the total value of poinsettias sold in North Carolina, in wholesale dollars, was $16.4 million,” said Zach Mussler, agricultural marketing specialist with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
N.C. State University conducts research on new methods of growing varieties of poinsettias and ways to make the plants grower- and home-friendly. At the N.C. State University Horticulture Science Department, many new varieties are grown including red, green, light green and even golden poinsettias.
More than 140 varieties of poinsettias are grown at the N.C. State University’s J.C. Raulston Arboretum where the National Poinsettia Trials are held annually. At the trials, growers can come and see the varieties that have been grown.
Although the plants are grown here in North Carolina, the plants roots come from Central America or Africa. Before being brought into the state, they are inspected for bugs and disease. These plants are then sent on to greenhouses across the state for further care and research.
The process for raising and growing poinsettias is complex, but quite a science. Growers and experts have perfected how to successfully grow these holiday plants in North Carolina. Throughout the holiday season keep an eye out for the varieties that are grown locally and sold in your neighborhood grocery store, farmers market or garden center.
Fun fact: These plants are, in fact, NOT poisonous! Also, poinsettias do not like to be cold. Make sure to keep them in an area where the temperature doesn’t drop below 50. And finally, only water the poinsettia when the soil is dry.