It's a wonderful time of the year - if you are in the flower and plant business.
Local florists and greenhouse operators say Christmas is their third busiest time of the year, behind Valentine's Day and Mother's Day.
"Literally, I don't take a day off between Thanksgiving and Christmas. "I am so concentrated on what goes on, I need my stamp on it," said Debbie Arnsparger, owner of Creative Expressions Florist, Altoona.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Patti Kline of Altoona shops for poinsettias at A&M Greenhouse near the Meadows Intersection in Duncansville on Thursday.
The Christmas holiday season is also very busy at Myers Bros. Florist, Altoona.
"It is a significant amount of our business. The good thing is it goes all month long after Thanksgiving. I even had a couple of orders before Thanksgiving," said owner Lois Pulcinello.
Nationally, according to the Society of American Florists, Christmas and Hanukkah rank first among holidays for sales of fresh flowers and plants - both the number of sales and dollar volume - ahead of Mother's Day and Valentine's Day.
However, Arnsparger and other local florists as well as greenhouse operators agree that Christmas season sales are very important to their business.
"I would say the Christmas season sales make up about 40 percent of our business. It is very important to us," said Annie Meadows, owner of A&M Greenhouses, Duncansville.
Meadows said along with live greens, Christmas trees, wreaths and swags, the business also sells a lot of poinsettias.
The Society of American Florists said about 50 million poinsettias are sold at Christmas, with red ones making up 74 percent of sales.
"We sell several thousand poinsettias during the season," said Debbie Wagner, owner of Wagner's Greenhouse, Altoona. "It is fairly busy here at Christmas.
Andrea Hammel, owner of Peterman's Flower Shop, Altoona, called poinsettias "lovely," because of their rich, vibrant color.
Some businesses purchase poinsettias from growers, while others grow their own.
"We will start in April with a stock plant and take cuttings in June and July, then we plant them," Wagner said. "It is a rather long crop if you are producing them yourself."
Hammel spruces up her poinsettias to make them stand out.
"They are a big seller. We add jingle bells, winter pines and nice ribbons to make them special," Hammel said.
The holidays are busy at Leidig's Farms, Warriors Mark, which grows everything it sells.
"We have poinsettias and Christmas trees. We make arrangements and wreaths. We sell a lot of Christmas trees. We have our own tree farm in Indiana County and plant some here," said co-owner Donna Leidig. "We have a variety of poinsettias and supply a lot of the local churches. We sell several thousand each season."
Along with poinsettias, other popular choices at local shops include fresh centerpieces
Arnsparger said her shop's selection includes dried and artificial as well as fresh pines and fresh greens.
"We specialize in boxwood trees. They are like tabletop centerpieces. I do not want generic looks. We [do] everything custom-made," she said.
Hammel said her shop also offers centerpieces with candles, winter pines and poinsettias as well as collectible Thomas Kinkade cottages that light up in the center of fresh arrangements.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.