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Colours of the season in bloom

Rosemary Galivan shows some of the poinsettias still available at Belgian Nursery. The more unusual colours tend to sell out earlier in the season, but they still have rows on rows of the traditional colours to add some greenery to your holiday festivities. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Rosemary Galivan shows some of the poinsettias still available at Belgian Nursery. The more unusual colours tend to sell out earlier in the season, but they still have rows on rows of the traditional colours to add some greenery to your holiday festivities. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
It just isn’t Christmas without splashes of red and green.

One of the most gifted items at this time of year – poinsettias – are flying off the shelves at Belgian Nursery in Breslau.

Co-owner Rosie Lombaert says they’ve been selling the traditional Christmas plants since the 1960s. They purchase them from a grower and she estimates they sell more than 15,000 poinsettias each year.

“November is when people start with them. The majority of people really want them the end of November and now. They’re great gifts because they’re not expensive and they’re nice and showy. I know a lot of people like giving them as a Christmas gift in the next week or two,” Lombaert said.

Canadian growers produced 7,222,000 poinsettias in 2015, a slight increase from the 7,141,000 in 2014, but lower than its peak in the last five years of 8,640,000 in 2011.

Ontario growers produced 4,029,000 poinsettias in 2015, a slight increase from the 3,795,000 in 2014, but lower than its peak in the last five years of 4,321,000 in 2013.

She shares some tips for caring for poinsettias for those of us who don’t quite have a green thumb.

“When you water them, make sure you drain your excess water away. They cannot sit in water. If they sit in water they can get root rot and that’s what causes them to drop leaves and die. And you never want them to get bone dry, that they’re wilted because that’s not healthy for them either,” she explained.

They also need about six hours of natural light per day and should not be kept near a cold draft or heating vent. She says the plants can thrive well past the holiday season, depending on how well they’re taken care of.

“I’ve had people that at Easter time still have the colour on their poinsettias. The majority of people are tired of them before that and put them into the compost,” she said.

She expects they will be nearly sold out of poinsettias by Christmas, but they will have a few for the people who celebrate the holiday in January.

“There are people who do pick them up as a gift between Christmas and New Year’s or families are still celebrating after Christmas and they’re taking gifts,” she said.

She says the appeal for most people is the colour that poinsettias add to their homes. And the plants come in many more colours than the traditional red now. They’re produced in varying shades of red, pink and white with names like Ice Crystals and Jingle Bell Rock.

Belgian Nursery doesn’t buy large quantities of the unusual colours, but still has plenty left of the standard colour poinsettias.

Multi-hued flowers and a range of colours have become more common to go along with the traditional red as growers continue to experiment with their offerings. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]

“Right now the selection of colours are pretty well getting picked over, so the unusual varieties go earlier in the season and now it’s just mainly the traditional colours,” she said.

They sell poinsettias in a range of sizes from 4.5 inches right up to 10 inches.

Another recent addition to the Christmas greenery options available is the princettia, which is a smaller poinsettia flower. The bracts – the colored leaf of the plant – are smaller and thinner, and the plant is a little shorter than a traditional poinsettia. They still have some of those left for sale. She says they’ve only been selling it for the past few years and it’s still classified as a new type of poinsettia.

For those looking to step outside of the box this holiday season for their Christmas greenery, Lombaert has a couple more options.

“Cyclamen is another colourful plant that does very well at Christmas. Christmas cactus is another one that we sell lots of at Christmas and then what we call Christmas planters. So a Christmas planter is a mixture with small poinsettias, ferns, cyclamen, a collection of five or six plants in a container, which is quite nice.”

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