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The 21st-century poinsettias

New styles upgrade the traditional holiday plant, raising the potential for increased profit margin.

by Monica Humbard

Over the years, the profit margin on traditional holiday potted poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) has dropped significantly. But enhancements and advancements in the plant itself, as well as new decorative applications, have given the category new life. Consumers have shown their willingness to pay more for poinsettias that are new and unusual. As you get ready to place your orders for Christmas 2007, here are some ideas for upgrading your poinsettia selection.

new forms
  desktop size
The 12-inch-tall miniature ‘Winter Rose’ tree, shown lower right, is perfect for a desktop and is targeted to the corporate market. Display it near the register at eye level so consumers can appreciate its unusual form.
Photo: Peace Tree Farm

column shape

The poinsettia column has a large single bract at the top of the plant, which drapes onto green foliage. Farther down the stem is a circle of smaller bracts. The plant has little spread (about 12 to 14 inches) and is grown in an 8-inch clay pot.
Photo: Peace Tree Farm

cut poinsettias

‘winter rose renaissance’
Photo: Paul Ecke Ranch

  Jack Williams, international products manager at Paul Ecke Ranch, says 2006 was the biggest year yet for cut-flower poinsettias. He says this is primarily because of the success of the cut ‘Winter Rose Renaissance’ poinsettia, which has fewer care and handling concerns as a cut flower compared to other varieties. ‘Jester’, well-received as a potted plant, also is finding application in markets as a cut flower.

Photo: Paul Ecke Ranch

new color treatments

Fantasy Colors, a line of 10 spray dyes from Fred C. Gloeckner & Co. Inc., make it easy to customize poinsettias to match a particular home or office decor, pot covers or add-ons. The products can be applied at the grower and store levels.
Design Master Color Tool’s Just For Flowers sprays, part of its Graffiti Petal Color Collection, are translucent colorants that allow the details of poinsettias’ bracts to show through while giving them a rich, satin color sheen. They are for in-store use.

how to:
Find out how to create the dazzling looks shown here by mousing over each treatment.

marketing tips for painted poinsettias
Painted poinsettias are expanding the selling time of the plants, and they appeal to a younger audience. Andrew Lee, vice president of sales and marketing with Fred C. Gloeckner & Co. Inc., says they also give retailers an opportunity to raise the price points of poinsettias to “a much-needed” higher level. Mr. Lee says consumers have shown their willingness to pay more for painted poinsettias. In fact, in some parts of the country, if they take the time to market them well, retailers are getting as much as double the prices of traditional poinsettias.
Here are Mr. Lee’s suggestions for marketing painted poinsettias:
NONTRADITIONAL HOLIDAYS Target nontraditional poinsettia holidays/events such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, New Year’s and birthdays. Some retailers are painting poinsettias to coordinate with the colors of fall mums so they can sell them as early as Halloween.
CUSTOMIZATION Offer to customize poinsettias to customers’ tastes and needs. Businesses, churches and even some individuals will have different holiday themes each year. By customizing painted poinsettias for them each year, you can build a returning clientele.
FAMILY EVENTS Plan an event for families to dye their own plants. Display examples, and have different sizes of poinsettias in neutral colors for decorating. Make staff available to assist customers.
MEETING ACTIVITY Offer to work with civic groups, clubs or other organizations to plan special events where their members can learn to create their own painted poinsettias.
FUND-RAISERS Suggest groups such as Boy Scouts, sports teams or churches purchase painted poinsettias and sell them as a fund-raiser. Teams can sell poinsettias painted in their team colors and add picks with the team name. A women’s organization could sell pink poinsettias with glitter for a breast cancer fund-raiser.
SOCIAL EVENTS Recommend painted poinsettias as a project for a “Girls Night Out” group or an annual holiday luncheon. If you have meeting space available, offer to host the event and provide the snacks, or send a representative with all the necessary materials to the home of the hostess to demonstrate the application methods and help the participants re-create the techniques.
GIVEAWAYS Build interest in painted poinsettias by giving away free plants in a drawing or with the purchase of a certain amount of product from the floral department.
PUBLICITY Alert the media to this unique and interesting new product. Invite them to your holiday open house.

year-round poinsettias

‘dulce rosa’
Photo: Paul Ecke Ranch

  Spring choices for Euphorbia ‘Dulce Rosa’ will include pastels, and the more intense fall color range will feature orange, red, purple and yellow blooms.


new bloomer

euphorbia fulgens
Photo: Flower Council of Holland

  Until recently, Euphorbia fulgens, commonly known as scarlet plume, a close relative of the poinsettia (E. pulcherrima), was bred only as a cut flower. Paul Ecke Ranch now has it in controlled grower trials in Europe and with its breeder in North America as a potted plant. Ecke hopes to have some of the first commercial trials in the market as soon as next year.

for the consumer
Keep your customers happy with their poinsettia purchases—and
coming back for more—by making copies of these care tips and giving them out with each sale.

poinsettia do’s and don’ts
Do place your plant in indirect sunlight for at least six hours a day. If direct sun can’t be avoided, diffuse the light with a shade or sheer curtain.
Do provide room temperatures between 68 F and 70 F.
Do water your plant when the soil feels dry to the touch.
Do use a large, roomy shopping bag to protect your plant when transporting it.
Do fertilize your plant after the blooming season with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer.
Don’t place your plant near cold drafts or excessive heat. Avoid placing your plant near appliances, fireplaces or ventilating ducts.
Don’t expose your plant to temperatures below 50 F. Poinsettias are sensitive to cold, so avoid placing your plant outside during the winter months.
Don’t overwater your plant or allow it to sit in standing water. Always remove a plant from any decorative container before watering, and allow the water to drain completely before replacing it.
Don’t expose your plant to chilling winds when transporting it.
Don’t fertilize your plant when it is in bloom.
Source: Paul Ecke Ranch

You may reach Contributing Editor Monica Humbard at (800) 355-8086.

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