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Florists ready for the season

Mirror photo by Walt Frank / Designer Leslie Miller creates a holiday arrangement at Warner’s Florists Gifts Greenhouses, Hollidaysburg.

The holiday season is an important time of the year for florists and greenhouse operators.

According to the Society of American Florists, Christmas/Hanukkah is the number one floral-buying holiday. Thirty percent of adults purchase flowers or plants as gifts for the holiday season.

Christmas makes up 26 percent of transactions for all holidays (behind Valentine’s Day at 30 percent) and 29 percent of dollar volume (the highest).

“This time of year is very important to us, this business is so cyclical. Christmas makes up between 15-18 percent of our annual sales,” said Jeff Moist, manager at Warner’s Florists Gifts Greenhouses, Hollidaysburg.

“It is definitely a good way to end the year. I would say our sales in December are double a normal month,” said Andrea Hammel, owner of Peterman’s Flower Shop, 608 N. Fourth Ave.

Mirror photo by Walt Frank / Designer Michele Baker looks over poinsettias at Warner’s Florists Gifts Greenhouses.

The most popular flower is the poinsettia, which is well known for its red and green foliage and is widely used in Christmas floral displays.

It derives its common English name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico, who is credited with introducing the plant to the U.S. in the 1820s.

There are over 100 varieties of poinsettias available.

Though once only available in red, there are now poinsettias in pink, white, yellow, purple, salmon and multi-colors. They have names like “Premium Picasso,” “Monet Twilight,” “Shimmer” and “Surprise.”

The red poinsettia still dominates over other color options. “Prestige Red” — one of many poinsettias patented by the “Poinsetta King” Paul Ecke Sr. — ranks among the best-selling hybrids.

Poinsettias contribute more than $250 million to the U.S. economy at the retail level.

Most are sold within a six-week period leading up to the holiday, representing some $60 million worth, according to the University of Illinois website.

“Most people like to see color in the middle of the winter. The poinsettia offers some inspiration in the winter. They are the brightest flower this time of year and it is a Christmas flower — people associate it with Christmas. There are more varieties now. A popular variety is the princettia,which has a smaller flower. It is nice for people with smaller living conditions,” said Lucille Martin, co-owner of Piney Creek Greenhouses and Floral, Martinsburg.

“The poinsettia is traditional for Christmas. A red poinsettia is Christmas. The greenhouse is like a sea of beautiful red,” Moist said.

The poinsettia “eminates” the whole Christmas feeling, Hammel said.

“They are popular because of their red rich color and they are nostalgic,” Hammel said.

Kenton Martin, manager of Spring Farm Greenhouses, Martinsburg, said his business grows between 2,000 and 3.000 poinsettias annually.

“We grow our own biologically. We don’t use any chemicals, they are all natural. We like to say ‘when you buy a poinsettia make sure the bottom is full of green leaves.’ They should be very dense and there should be as many blooms on the side as on the top, like a globe or mound,” Martin said.

There are other popular plants available for the holidays.

“Christmas cactuses are big this year. There is a trend toward succulents, they are like a cactus and they are super popular. They are similar to an aloe plant,” Hammel said.

“Flower sales started slowly but are coming along. We have a nice inventory of beautiful flowers and they seem bigger this year. Christmas cactuses are very strong and, of course, poinsettias — the ten-inch pot is our biggest seller,” said Annie Meadows, owner of A&M Greenhouses, Duncansville.

Fresh cut flowers and arrangements with red berries and pine cones are also popular, Moist said.

Shoppers are urged to buy their plants locally.

“Always try to buy locally, be careful of online order takers — visit a reputable brick and mortar flower shop,” Hammel said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.

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