The Christmas Flower is Back

Miller Plant Farm is a sea of red this month as Christmas poinsettias take center stage.

Fourth-generation owner Dave Miller expects to sell 7,000 poinsettia plants this holiday season.

Miller’s selection ranges from 3-inch pots with a single flower up to 10-inch pots with five plants.

A medium-sized option — 6-inch pot, single plant — is the most popular, he said.

The 50-acre Miller farm has more than 20 greenhouses to start produce crops and flowers.

Miller, 65, grew up on the family farm and runs it today with his children and nephew.

Miller’s mother, Betty, started selling poinsettias in the 1960s. She selected a new Norwegian variety called Annette Hegg, an important cultivar that helped usher in the bushy, many-flowered plant that is familiar today.

Wild poinsettias actually grow straight and treelike up to 10 feet tall. Plant breeders have labored for decades to make smaller varieties that produce more of the modified leaves, called bracts, that are often called the plant’s flowers, according to an article by USDA researcher Ing-Ming Lee.

Those bracts are traditionally red, but that’s not a given anymore.

“Today, we sell many varieties of the plant in colors from pink, white, yellow, cream and glitter as breeders continually experiment with new shades,” Miller said.

California grower Paul Ecke Sr. popularized the poinsettia, native to Central America, as a U.S. Christmas icon in the early 1900s.

When Ecke died in 1991, his company provided more than 90% of the world’s poinsettia stock plants, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Miller starts his poinsettias from rooted cuttings grown in foam Oasis cubes. The plants sold at 10 inches are started as early as July.

Read the entire article here.

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