Growing Poinsettia, the Christmas Flower

The Christmas season is here once again and what better way to give places — and even our own houses the Christmas feel than with the use of poinsettias. People think that poinsettias are only for Christmas. But according to Francis Gener, manager of King Louis Farm, that’s the biggest misconception of consumers. Poinsettias are not only for that particular season and it doesn’t only come in red. It also comes in colors like white and pink. Poinsettias nowadays however, are not only limited to solid colors and particular growth patterns.

In fact, King Louis Farm, the country’s biggest grower and supplier of poinsettias, is about to introduce a whole new hybrid of poinsettias in the market. They are the Winter Rose Family, Jester Red and Jester Jingle Bells and Strawberries ‘N Cream.

The Winter Rose family comes in the colors dark red, deep pink, pink, marble and white. It has unique incurved bracts, green incurved leaves, easily adaptable to most product forms and exceptional shelf-life. The jester red and jester jingle bells proves true to its “The Name Speaks for the Habit” tagline. It has an upright habit; bracts open and expand as they mature. It also has dark green leaves, outstanding post production characteristics and is a novel presentation on its own. If you want something compact yet unique, then the strawberries ‘n cream variant is for you. It has a distinct cream and dark pink color combination, unique serrated leaves and bracts, excellent post reduction characteristics and best of all, no growth regulators required. Truly there is “nothing else like it!”

Poinsettias, scientifically called Euphorbia pulcherrima was said to have originated from Mexico. It was named after Joel R. Poinsett who first brought back cuttings to South Carolina in 1828. Worldwide, it is a growing market representing approximately 85% of plant sales during the Christmas season. Here in the Philippines, there are only three licensed growers and suppliers of poinsettia in the market. King Louis flowers and plants is one of them and the biggest of all.

Having surpassed the quality of even the imported poinsettias and securing patent of Paul Ecke poinsettias of the Netherlands, King Louis is now making its own name in the Philippine market as the leading grower of poinsettias.

According to Gener, during the Christmas season they sell around 140,000 pots of poinsettias and their sales reach up to approximately 7.5 million pesos. These come with big expenses though as they pay the pick-up truck 15,000 pesos per trip. This is because their farm is based in Baguio and the poinsettias have to be transported all the way to Quezon City.

The market for poinsettias is only from October to December unless there are orders for debuts or weddings. It also extends up to February. Of course, according to Gener, the poinsettias used for these occasions are the white and pink ones. For the materials they use for planting, they import their materials from the Netherlands. But it was also mentioned that the US and Hawaii are good sources of planting materials. King Louis’ production cost is PhPys -PhPioo per pot depending on the size. They cater to all classes from A- D market. “Even the cigarette vendors come to us to resell.” Gener said.

Their leading customers however, are the malls like Ayala, Rockwell and SM. They One thing that makes also sell their poinsettias to King Louis flowers and plants people working in airports and stand out from the rest aside subdivision residents. from paying loyalty abroad

to Paul Ecke, is the amount of extensive research which they did to be able to make quality breeds of poinsettias available to the market. Even though they are growing to be quite popular, one would be surprised to find that they do not really do much advertising. “Most of our advertisements are ex-deals in talk shows, [events like] Agrlink, Worldvex”, said Gener.

There are a few important pointers, he said, in growing poinsettias: cutting by bed, lighting it for 14 days for 4 hours a night, after which covering the foliage with dark cloth – starting at 4

pm up to 7 pm. These procedures should be done rigorously. Otherwise, the poinsettias won’t turn into the desired color which is often red. It can be grown in different soil mixes as long as it has good water retention properties. Also, Gener advises growers to maintain the media’s soil PH level from 5 – 6.5.

Bet you didn’t know that poinsettias can also serve as therapy. Since it is beautiful and pleasing to the eye, it easily fits wherever you put it. Nowadays, it is also being used in cemeteries especially those with mausoleums. Of course, no one can deny the beauty this breed of flowers radiates whether it be used as ornaments, gifts or for other purposes.

King Louis Farm is located in a six-hectare lot at Trinidad, Benguet. It is habitat of not only poinsettias but also 16 local and imported flower varieties like gladiola, misty blue, snapdragon, bells of Ireland, liatris, tulips, potted chrysanthemums, kalanchoe, hydrangea, African violet, petunia and a lot more.
Today, King Louis Farm continues their legacy by innovating ways to grow high quality flowers through extensive research and application of that research in its operations. It is indeed a haven for flower enthusiasts out there.

With all that in mind, we come to a conclusion that poinsettias, though they are hard to grow, make excellent profit. However, one needs to have time, patience and enough resources in order to make it work. And let us not forget, one also needs to have the skills and a green-thumb. If you have all those, then an inviting business opportunity might be waiting for you.

Poinsettia Quick Facts

  • The classic Christmas plant, poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, is native to Mexico and the Aztecs called the plant “Cuetlayochitl.” Today in Mexico the Poinsettia is called Flor de nochebuena (Christmas Eve Flower)
  • The poinsettia is named after Joel R. Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to our southern neighbor. Poinsett brought back cuttings to South Carolina about 1828
  • In Mexico, poinsettia is a perennial flowering shrub rated to about 10-15 feet tall. The color you see are not flowers, but colored bracts (modified leaves) just like colors of bougainvillea vines
  • Growing Poinsettia is a big industry today representing about 85% of potted plant Christmas season sales. The USA exports about 90% of the world’s Poinsettia plants. It is thought that Poinsettia is grown commercially in greenhouses in all 50 states and over 60 million plants are produced for sale, Purdue University maintains a list of named varieties for 2003
  • Joel R, Poinsett died on December 12
  • Contrary to conventional wisdom, poinsettia is not a poisonous plant. A Ohio State University study showed that a 50 pound child could eat 500 bracts and might have a slight stomach ache
  • However, the white sap can have allergic properties, especially for folks who have latex allergies. The Poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, is a relative of the Brazilian Rubber Tree from which we harvest latex. Contacting the sap, those affected can get a rash, hives, sneezing, coughing, tight throat and possibly difficult breathing. Almost all reactions are mild

Indoor Care for Poinsettia Plants is Easy

  • First, many Poinsettia plants are sold with a decorative brightly-colored aluminum or plastic pot wrapper. That’s nice, but both aluminum and plastic block water drainage. You need to remove the wrapper or punch holes for drainage
  • Poinsettia plants are extremely brittle. Handle with care to not snap branches. Place your plant in a bright area (best) away from all cold air (like doors) and all cold drafts. Otherwise, cool indoor household temperatures are just fine
  • Poinsettia plants like to be kept on the dry side. Water as often as needed, but allow soil to get dry before watering again, then soak the soil. Be 100% certain all excess water is drained away, so use of pot trays means you have to empty the tray completely
  • Best is to water (soak the soil) in your sink without the tray, then replace the tray. For best performance, however, never allow your plant to wilt due to tack of water
  • Food is not necessary if your poinsettia is a Christmas holiday plant. If kept throughout the winter, you can feed in the spring, and periodically until early October
  • If you wish to grow your poinsettia for the next Christmas, cut back your plant in spring (April is a good month) and feed. Outside of zone 9-11, place in eastern sun (only) or general shade after you have reliable temperatures above about 60 degrees. You can also re-pot at pruning time into a larger pot. Keep the plant pruned and pinched (all summer) to produce the main branches you want with plenty of growing tips (from which you get color). You could also severely prune again (you already did in April) in fall, about September
  • As fall approaches, bring your plant indoors to a bright location when temperatures threaten to go below 60 degrees. Starting the end of September or the beginning of October, to initiate color change, place your Poinsettia in complete darkness 12 hours per day. Zero light usually 5:00 PM until morning light. During the day (the other 12 hours) provide as much bright light as possible
  • Close to Christmas, you wilt see your poinsettia’s color return.

King Louis Farm
Phone: 929-4105

author: Katrina C. Guevarra, Marid Digest

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