MASON, W.Va. — We see them everywhere during the holiday season.
Poinsettias are the traditional Christmas flower, and this time of year they adorn our homes, businesses and churches. And when you see a poinsettia locally, chances are it was one of the 70,000 grown at Bob’s Market and Greenhouses, Inc. in Mason.
Bob’s greenhouses are full of the blooms in shades of red, pink, white and marble. Some have catchy names, like “Red Glitter,” “Ice Punch,” and “Winter Rose.” According to Scott Barnitz, a vice-president at Bob’s, the traditional red remains the favorite year after year, and makes up 75 percent of their production.
Along with various colors, poinsettias also come in a variety of sizes. Barnitz said the local greenhouse grows the flower in four-and-a-half, six-and-a-half, eight, 10, and 14 inch pots. Most of the 14-inch poinsettias, however, are shipped to Bob’s Pittsburgh warehouse, to be purchased by businesses as far as New York. Barnitz said those plants can get as large as some Christmas trees.
While many people enjoy poinsettias at this time of year, Barnitz laughed and said workers at the greenhouses are tired of looking at them. With one of the longest growing season of any flower, the workers have been nurturing the plants since the end of June.
The poinsettias are ordered in May from places such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Mexico as cuttings. Barnitz describes them as “back-end, weighted crops,” which means after the long growing season, they are mostly sold during a two-week period from Dec. 10 to Christmas.
Knowing how many cuttings to order in May for December is always risky, Barnitz said, but ordering in the middle of a pandemic was like “rolling the dice.” He said Bob’s was “hurt severely” in the spring when the Pittsburgh area, which is very strong in purchasing Easter flowers, was mostly closed due to COVID-19.
Selling a lot of poinsettias each year to churches, Barnitz said their success will be directly affected by the churches being able to remain open with COVID-19 cases rising. Even though he said Bob’s is “holding its breath on this crop,” he remains optimistic. Barnitz said early sales have shown people who are stuck inside during the pandemic are having more time to spend decorating their homes, and flowers are more important to them.
Bob’s Market has three local retail stores, including Mason in West Virginia, and Gallipolis and Belpre in Ohio.
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Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at [email protected]