4 Ways to Extend Your First Poinsettia Installation to New Year’s Day

35 days. 840 hours. 50,400 minutes. 3,024,000 seconds.

No matter how you state it, the duration of time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day this year will be hectic for many Interiorscapers who add on holiday installations to their service profile. Oftentimes the item central to holiday designs also provides the most headaches from hair-pulling – the Poinsettia.

It is not uncommon for some Interiorscapers to install the majority of decor during the week of Thanksgiving. But some Interiorscape companies shared with us some tried-and-true methods they will be using this year to extend the Poinsettias they install in November all the way to late December.

It’s their goal to reduce as many mid-season poinsettia trade-outs as they can. Here’s what they do:

  1. Buy from quality local growers. Sometimes quality means a higher initial cost per plant, but the cost savings adds up if you avoid replacing them.
  2. Use of sub-irrigation methods such as the Aquafur and Oasis brand disks that fit in the bottom of pots and speed covers. Also, no-hole liners with foam inserts, wicking systems or Sippers are ways to extend poinsettia life indoors.
  3. Make weekly visits. Most Interiorscapers check their Poinsettias twice a week, but by using the above methods, you may only need to make weekly water checks depending on environmental conditions. Just remember this simple formula: Quality Poinsettias + Quality Sub-irrigation methods = fewer water checks.
  4. Make sure to avoid cold temperatures; transport your plants in a heated vehicle. While Poinsettias today are a stronger and more tolerant breed than their nursery forefathers, exposing them to frigid November weather will reduce shelf life.

What do you recommend? What are your strategies to keeping Poinsettias alive and thriving? Or do you find it easier to just install and schedule a trade-out sometime in December? Share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply:” area below.

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  • Reducing the poinsettia burden is a magician’s job and Houdini is not on our payroll! After my first holiday season in this industry in 2004 I asked a 25 year interiorscape veteran…”can’t we take a red bromeliad & sprinkle it with silver glitter and call it the Christmas star flower?”. Of course I was shot down like a skeet sporting clay disk!

    What have we done to decrease the poinsettia pains? A few years ago we began an interesting offering for our customers who are NOT already recieving a blooming plant rotation. We offer (2) prices per poinsettia. One, pricing for poinsettia with guaranteed maintenance (GM) and two, pricing for installation only and allow the customer to maintain the poinsettias with simple care instructions. We create a dramatic fee variance between the two offerings and ask for a minimum order of $100.00 of poinsettias for GM offering. What does this do? First, customers love options. Second, it eliminates 1/2 of the transporation, technician & installation labor while still turning a profit. Interesting outcome to this offering……we find that the clients who order 30+ poinsettias embrace the GM option and the small orders tend to embrace the non-GM option. Interesting fact; when our technicians care for the green foliage and witness our customer’s talents in maintaining the poinsettias the technicians are often surprised that the client still has full blooms in mid-January. This is because the client neglects the watering practice! What did we learn from this? Our technicians were drowning the poinsettias! A little drink will do, especially with the aquafur in place.

    Due to Chicago’s parade called the Festival of Lights which is the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving, this annual event event has pushed our seasonal displays so early that we are forced to install poinsettias as early as November 15th! With this crazy early holiday season we in Chicago welcome any tips and tricks to long lasting poinsettia blooms.

  • Steven Rutledge

    Carolyn Ascher is a smart lady. I endorse her concepts entirely.

    However, we at Rutledge & Company in New Orleans have developed a few additional concepts during the past 13 years.

    Having a wide range of clientele from residential on up to shopping malls and casinos we were forced early-on to be creative if we were gonna survive in this fast paced garden and interiorscape world.

    Use a Subcontractor…and spread the work around.

    We quickly learned to separate the seasonal jobs such as Poinsettias and even decorating Christmas trees for Holiday Season from our normal interiorscape work.

    The Two-Pronged approach.

    So. we have created a two-pronged “Holiday Concept” by supplementing our
    regular interiorscape work with subcontractors for special events.

    These subcontractors handle the Special Events of seasonal foliage & color — they purchase, install, maintain and switch-out as needed. All for a pre-agreed total price. We inspect and provide technical support. We continually report a cost savings in our normal interiorscape labor and materials cost outlay with this concept. We have managed to stay within our annual budget over the years. These sub-contractors are acquaintances with whom we have become aware thru attendance at local, national and international floral, horticultural and interiorscape events. And they revolve annually based upon who negotiates the best overall contract.

    For instance, Holiday (Christmas) involves use of subcontractors to provide Poinsettia masses and color-coordinated, edgy floral arrangements in addition to our own regular interiorscape installations. All subcontractors must incorporate at least 2 materials that we have specified in our installations. Our regular interiorscape installations and the subcontractors’ installations are mutually supportive.

    Scheduling and Prioritizing are crucial.

    It sounds complicated and expensive but in the end it is far easier and cheaper than if we had installed and maintained just the poinsettias.

    Rich Visuals/No Stress.

    The vignettes are so much richer and there is no stress because we stage each contractor’s installation on slightly different dates.

    Eliminate the “Christmas Already? comments.

    We segue from Halloween to Thanksgiving on Nov. 2. Then to Holiday immediately after Thanksgiving, by carefully planning species and colors so that only partial changes are required from late summer thru New Years.

    Steady Staffing, Lower Overhead.

    We no longer have the labor peaks and valleys associated with holiday setups. This has evened-out our payroll and liability insurance costs! We saved over 60% in annual insurance premiums alone.

    Happy Plants are Healthy Plants.

    Plants are individuals just as humans are. We insist that the plants at each account are maintained consistently by the same technician. We also insist upon maintenance operations during daylight hours so we can see what is going on with each plant and can observe it’s lighting situation. Each plant is treated according to it’s own progress.

    Just a Splash with Super Thrive.

    And since hydration is so critical, we inject a tiny amount of a special pre-measured soil additive (powdered silica gel) into the root ball of each plant upon arrival at our facility. Then we add earthworms. During regular meintenance, the tech finger-tests each root ball for moisture, then applies “just a splash” to each plant as needed every week during weekly grooming and maintenance. That “splash” is a weak blend of Super Thrive vitamins and liquified kelp solution in plain water. The individualized relationship between the tech and his plants means he knows how much to irrigate each plant based upon it’s performance in the recent past.

    It’s Natural–Rainstorm the Plants.

    Additionally, We stimulate the plants’ circulation by stroking and flexing their leaves then create a rainstorm with a water jet-spray. We never use a foliar shine of any kind. Our plants are organic and natural.
    Pest Control is non-existent because our plants are so healthy.

    Everyone Wins.

    This takes no more time than traditional plant maintenance, yet our plants thrive. As does our relationship with the Client. The plants are healthy even when it’s time to change them out, so we donate them to local charities for fundraising projects.

    We are constantly bombarded with kudos and lotsa questions from the general public about our success with these plants during our maintenance operations.

    Hope this helps…

    Sincerely, R S Rutledge Rutledge & Company New Orleans

    • Steven – WOW
      I’m putting you on my short list for guest bloggers. Yours and Carolyn’s comments share some great insights a, and that’s what this forum is about!
      Thank you so much!

  • Kathy Fediw, LEED AP,CLP, CLT

    Steve, you add EARTHWORMS to the pots? Really? I don’t think that would work very well in a corporate setting, do you? The little buggers rarely stay where you put them! And I’m doubtful that massaging a poinsettia’s leaves and then giving them a full-on shower would help “increase circulation” or extend their life. Perhaps you could explain further.

  • Incredible poinsettia tree picture!
    Let’s face it, poinsettias are a pain in the arse..
    Yes they are pretty and all that, but the truth is, they have ruined my Christmas season for as long as I can remember working in this industry.
    Regardless of what you do to make your life easier, your December will still be miserable.
    We don’t provide Christmas decor, never have, never will…sadly we can’t get away from not selling poinsettias.
    Luckily where we buy them, they put some small water retention rocks in the soil and unless they get too hot or get fool light, they pretty hold from week to week.
    Nevertheless, I repeat, they are a pain in the arse.
    Call me grumpy but I can’t wait for January.

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