A great British success story
Make your Christmas colourful with one of our favourite indoor plants, the poinsettia – and did you know the one you buy will quite likely have been grown in Lincolnshire?
Bell’s Nurseries of Benington, Boston, are one of the largest commercial growers in the county and theirs is a great British success story, especially when it comes to Euphorbia pulcherrima, better known as poinsettias. Their greenhouses are now ablaze with colour from this year’s crop which numbers more than 200,000 plants.
This attractive winter house plant is indigenous to Mexico, where it grows as a shrub or small tree up to 4 metres high in the hot climate. We value it for the vibrant red and green foliage although the flaming red bracts, which are often mistaken for flower petals, are actually leaves.
Holly Bell, of Bell’s Nurseries explained: “Within Bell’s Nurseries we have experience of growing poinsettias, which can be a fickle and tricky crop, for more than 25 years. While red is the most popular variety we also rear white, pink and fancy marbled varieties.”
It was a steep learning curve at the outset, to master the technique of nurturing the cuttings, achieving ideal shaping and initiating the colour. The bracts are created through photoperiodism which entails their exposure to 12 hours of darkness for at least five days in a row. During the day they require the brightest light for the brightest colour.
Bell’s specialise in the largest 17cm pot poinsettia which you will find on sale in premium supermarkets from the end of this month but they grow all sizes in their 30 acres of protected production across six sites.
Holly added: “The plants require temperatures between 18 and 24 degrees C depending on the stage of development. The higher temperatures are essential for the initiation of the colour, along with these specific light and dark requirements.”
Bell’s Nurseries have remained as one of the leading British poinsettia growers because of their expertise and investment in a biomass boiler to offset rising fuel costs. While there is production in Europe, poinsettias do not travel well so the larger plants predominately grown by Bell’s are sturdy and less stressed.
Each plant is hand pinched to achieve the perfect shape and in the packing sheds will be sleeved by hand before heading off to stores around the UK. Keep your eye open for the ‘Grown in the UK’ symbol on your plant this year and it could well be that the cheery poinsettias brightening your home this Christmas will have been grown in Lincolnshire.
The Poinsettia House at Bell’s Gardening Outlet opens at the end of November where you will find all sizes and colours on sale from £2.99.
Bell’s Gardening Outlet, signposted off the A52 at Benington, Boston PE22 0EE, Tel: 07950 859 761
HOLLY HAS SOME TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR POINSETTIA HAPPY AT HOME:
“Once bought, do not leave in your cold car for hours whilst you continue to shop elsewhere. That short cold spell can do enough damage to make the plant fail. This is why plants which have sat in depots and then on boats for many, many hours and even days can sometimes fail no matter how you treat them at home. Sometimes the damage is done before you even buy the plant! Which is a great reason to Buy British! (and never buy a poinsettia from an outdoor market).
“Keep your poinsettia away from direct heat such as fire places and radiators and also out of drafts (near doorways etc). They like consistent temperatures.
“Water from underneath and only when the pot feels dry. A dry and wilted poinsettia will recover with a drink. A consistently over watered poinsettia will do nothing but sulk and drop its leaves.
“Have a Happy Poinsettia Christmas!”