Advising customers how to care for these sensitive seasonal plants will help them stay the course throughout Christmas, polishing your reputation in the process
As one of the world’s most popular plants, responsible for more than 20% of all potted plant sales in America and with tens of millions sold around Europe each year, the proper care of poinsettias is not just a service to nature, but is also a matter of serious commercial concern for growers and sellers. Here the experts, Stars for Europe, provide some top tips to ensure customers are armed with everything they need to know to ensure their plant outlives the festive season.
Many greenhouse operators throughout Europe are highly dependent upon poinsettias, which not only sell in huge quantities but enable commercial growers to stay full operational all year long, as poinsettias start to grow when most other high cash crops and plants have stopped flourishing.
As the festive ornament of choice and one of the most popular traditional gifts of the season, hundreds of millions of poinsettias are sold in the run up to Christmas. Whilst poinsettias are renowned for making wonderful displays, they have an equally justified reputation for being a little temperamental and tricky to care for. Set yourself apart from supermarket sellers with due care and attention at the till, which should include proper advice on plant maintenance that will help your customers make the most of their plant purchases.
The golden rule for poinsettias is don’t let them get too cold. Inform customers that they must be kept at a temperature of 15-22 degrees Celsius and protected from cold draughts, preferring a warm, sheltered spot with light.
These sensitive plants can easily be damaged during transportation from garden centre or florist to home, so instruct staff to properly wrap all poinsettias in paper without leaving any foliage exposed to the elements. You would ideally put inside a bag for safe measure. Advise customers
that even a few minutes of exposure to cold air – especially an Artic plast in the depth of winter – can terminally damage the leaves, which must be kept well sheltered at all times.
As the poinsettia’s optimum temperature is 15-22 degrees Celsius the store temperature should ideally reach this, maintining at least 14 degrees, with special care being taken during transit and storage prior to the plants being displayed. Display them in a bright and airy position with plenty of natural light, and avoid moving them around in ways that would mean they experience drastic changes in light or temperature. The last thing you want is a reputation for selling injured or dying poinsettias for Christmas.
Given the importance of greenhouse temperature to poinsettia production, it is also important for growers to have the right property insurance in order to quickly rectify damage resulting from adverse weather conditions – especially strong winds, snow and hail – fire or floods. Commercial growers should also invest in in-transit coverage which protects the plants during transportation from greenhouses until they reach their final retail destinations. Retailers should confirm that suppliers have all the proper financial protections in place that will ensure nobody has a major financial upset in the run up to Christmas.
Tip: Simple care instructions in the form of demonstration images and/or basic text can be positioned close to the merchandise to save on time spent at the till during busy times. You can even offer helpful fact sheets for customers to read or take with them.
Water and Nutrition
Poinsettias need soil within an optimum ph range of 5.8 to 6.2, using three parts soil to one part grit so plenty of oxygen can reach the roots.
Advise customers that poinsettias must not be over-watered and left in soggy soil and they should let the compost just start to dry out before light watering, taking care not to soak them. Overwatering can cause poinsettias to be blighted by grey mould and also makes them vulnerable to attack from common pests like mealybugs and scale insects.
Poinsettias prefer humid conditions, so advise your customers to keep them misted if there’s a danger of them gasping for moisture in centrally heated rooms.
Just like your Christmas dinner guests, poinsettias also like to be fed – in this case monthly with a high potassium, low nitrogen fertilser.
NB: Regular fertilisation will occur during cultivation because it helps the plants become established and encourages rapid development of branches after the pinch. Regular fertilisation should continue until 2 to 3 weeks before sale, at which point it should stop. Reducing fertilisation at this time helps extend the postharvest life of the plants and prevents injury to the bracts through soluble salts.
Tip: Merchandise poinsettias by displaing them in their ideal conditions
Find out more
To find out more about Stars for Europe, and to access its incredible library of advice, aspirational imagery and content please visit https://www.starsuniteeurope.eu/en/
NOTES TO EDITORS
Stars for Europe
Stars for Europe (SfE) is a marketing initiative founded by European poinsettia breeders Dümmen Orange, Selecta One, Beekenkamp and Syngenta Flowers. The initiative began in 2000 with the aim to promote and secure long-term poinsettia sales in Europe. SfE activities are currently taking place in 22 European nations. From 2021 to 2024 SfE is supported by EU programme “Stars Unite Europe” in seven countries: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Sweden.
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