She’s surrounded by thousands of poinsettias throughout her workday, but the plants haven’t lost their charm for Judy Thompson.
“As much work as they are, I still love them,” she said. “They mean Christmas to me.”
Operating Forest Glen Greenhouses, she sees about 50,000 poinsettias grow each year, and for three days each November the public is invited to stop in and see them.
“It’s a way of giving back to the community,” said Thompson. “We see them every day, so it’s nice to see other people come in and be overwhelmed with the colour.”
The open house, which is held Nov. 23 to 25, gives visitors a chance to shop for a plant while enjoying holiday sweets, hot cider, music and festive décor. The event draws about 3,000 people over the three days.
Having the poinsettias ready for the holiday season begins early in the year. They arrive as cuttings in July, and after months of care shipping to Atlantic Superstores across the Maritimes begins in mid-November.
“We want people to know those plants are locally grown,” said Thompson. “We also like to let people know how to care for them.
“Sometimes I see people carrying them to their car without protection from the cold, and that’s not a good start. You have to protect them in something like a plastic sleeve when you take them outside.”
Once it’s home, the poinsettia should be removed from the plastic sleeve and placed in an area away from drafts or direct heat. It requires a well-lit area, but not direct sunlight.
“It’s a short-day plant, which means it needs short days to flower,” explained Thompson. “A lot of artificial lighting isn’t good either. If you put a poinsettia in a room where you have lights on all evening it won’t do well.”
The plants should be watered if the soil is dry to the touch, but they don’t like to have their roots in water.
Although poinsettias have a reputation for being poisonous, they’re only mildly toxic, and because of their bitter taste pets and children are unlikely to try eating them. The cats at Forest Glen Greenhouses roam freely through the plants and have never been adversely affected by the plants.
Included in the 10th annual open house displays, there will be four “live poinsettia trees” and about 30 other decorated trees.
Where: Forest Glen Greenhouses, 664 Brentwood Road
Dates: Nov. 23, 24 and 25
Time: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
What’s there: Poinsettias, decorated trees, holiday sweets & hot cider
Live entertainment: First Baptist Girls’ Choir on Saturday afternoon