Articles by Jim Gainan

As published in the Billings Gazette

Growing Up: Celebrate the Christmas season with colorful poinsettia plants

JIM GAINAN Growing Up | Posted: Sunday, November 22, 2009 12:05 am

Pink, Peach, Blue, Lavender and, of course, Red Poinsettias?  That's right!  Poinsettias will be on parade next weekend all over town. The day after Thanksgiving is often referred to as 'Black Friday'.  The term's use began in the 1960s.  It marks the official beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Retailers have begun opening their stores as early as 12 a.m. with 'Doorbuster' promotions to build buzz and excitement.  This year will be no exception.

The combination of many consumers enjoying the day off from work, students being out of school and visiting family members from outlying areas makes the day an exceptional one for larger market retailing.  For many the day/term also marks a change in ink color from red to "black" on the company financial statements.

For us the week marks the beginning of a wonderful tradition.  Every year on the weekend after Thanksgiving, our Heights Garden Center bursts with color to celebrate the season.  Our poinsettia crop is a source of great pride and beauty.  We've been surrounded with Christmas décor since the first of November, but when the poinsettias arrive, the sentiment of the season kicks up a notch. 

Originally from Mexico and Central America, poinsettias are a very popular holiday plant. An Act of Congress declared December 12 as National Poinsettia Day. The date honors the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett, an amateur botanist and the first ambassador to Mexico who died in 1851. Poinsett was credited with introducing the native Mexican plant to the United States.

The market for this Christmas-season plant has changed over the years.  The plants are now widely available. Poinsettias are one of the longest-lasting blooming plants available to consumers. It's important to know what to look for. Here are some tips for choosing and caring for your poinsettia.

To choose the perfect poinsettia:

• Pick a plant with small, tightly clustered buds in the center.

• Look for crisp, bright, undamaged foliage.

• Avoid plants displayed in drafty or crowded areas.

To keep the poinsettia blooming:

• When surface soil is dry to the touch, water thoroughly. Discard excess water in the saucer.

• To prolong color, keep a temperature range of 60 degrees for night and 72 degrees for day. High humidity is preferable.

• Place plant away from hot or cold drafts, and protect from cold winds.

Jim Gainan is VP/Shareholder of Gainan's Flower and Garden Center in Billings.