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WITH NAMES AS ALLURING

as Christmas Beauty Princess, Superba Glitter, Winter Rose and Glory Red you’d expect to encounter a parade of holiday royalty. These queens of Christmas, however, are both new and beloved varieties of poinsettias. They range from bright ruby red to a deep burgundy to snow white and almost every shade between, and they’re just as beautiful as their names suggest. These varieties of the iconic holiday plant start rolling into Gainan’s Midtown Flowers and the Heights Garden Center in early November where those in the nursery work to keep them beautiful all season long. “We hope that when people think of poinsettias, they think of Gainan’s,” says Darlene Schlueter, the garden center’s manager. Darlene has worked for Gainan’s Heights Garden Center for 26 years, starting out as a part-time waterer, and moving up to manager. She oversees the growing operations and plant purchasing. Over the years, Gainan’s has grown poinsettias, off and on, in their greenhouses on Bench Boulevard. For the past couple of years, however, they’ve opted to purchase poinsettia plants from a family-owned farm in Blain Washington.

WHITE GLITTER

“There are hundreds of varieties of poinsettias and they have perfected these varieties,” Darlene says. “We get in everything from the 2-inch minis to the 10-inch pots, which have three to four stems.” This year, 1,500 poinsettia plants will grace the floors at both Gainan’s locations. If the past offers any predictions, by Christmas they will be sold out. In the days when Gainan’s grew their own poinsettias, the process started with the delivery of thousands of tiny “plugs” in July. With careful tending they were ready for sale by start of December. Darlene misses those days. Poinsettias are one of her favorite plants, primarily because they are so unique, and the plant’s finicky blooming habits are so fascinating.

POLAR BEAR WHITE

“I loved growing them,” Darlene says. “I liked teaching people how the color change worked.” To understand what makes a poinsettia bloom requires a short lesson in photoperiodism, which is a sensitivity to light that occurs in plants. Many flowering plants are triggered to bloom by changes in the length of days. While most plants bloom as the days get longer, poinsettias are one of the few plants on the other end of the spectrum and bloom as the days get shorter. The blossoms on a poinsettia are the tiny yellow buds at the center of what looks like the flower. The “petals” are actually the poinsettia’s leaves that turn color as the days get shorter. For maximum color, their exposure to light shouldn’t be any longer than about eight hours. Montana’s shorter days and longer nights are ideal for growing poinsettias, Darlene says, but they still need a little help with shading to bring them into their full color and to maintain their

MONET TWILIGHT NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

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Yellowstone Valley Woman  

Yellowstone Valley Woman magazine was started in 2001 as a 40-page free publication in Yellowstone County. Over the years, thanks to your re...

Yellowstone Valley Woman  

Yellowstone Valley Woman magazine was started in 2001 as a 40-page free publication in Yellowstone County. Over the years, thanks to your re...