Celebrating the poinsettia at Uncle John's Home & Garden

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At Jeff and Marcia (pictured) Hawkin’s Uncle John’s Home & Garden, everything is coming up poinsettias. (Photography: Benjamin Margalit)

By Ken McEntee

Having been displayed by Franciscan friars in Mexico as early as the 1600s, festively colored poinsettia plants have been a decorative staple of Christmas celebrations for nearly as long as ornamented Christmas trees. In Mexico today, the plant is known as flor de noche buena, or flower of the good night, referring to Christmas Eve.

The federal government officially recognizes December 12 as National Poinsettia Day, but a more credible expert on creating holiday magic, Uncle John’s Home & Garden, celebrates the plant’s beauty at its annual Poinsettia Party.

“Poinsettias, first cultivated by the Aztecs, originated in a warmer climate. Uncle John’s grows 70,000 plants in four acres of greenhouse located in Olmsted Falls. Most are shipped to retailers around the region, but Uncle John’s will have plenty to choose from to keep your home merry and bright throughout the Christmas Season,” says Marcia Hawkins, Home & Garden Store Manager.

“Our poinsettias were started in June. We start with just cuttings, and it’s so rewarding to watch them grow and gradually change to their beautiful, vivid colors. We’re excited for customers to visit and see this year’s crop and new varieties.”

Although red poinsettias are the most popular, the plants also come in many other shades and colors, like yellow, pink, white and even striped. Most people might think of poinsettias as potted plants, but in the wild they can grow to nearly 10 feet tall.

“Some of the largest growers, who supply most of the national retailers, have to limit the sizes of their plants for shipping purposes,” Marcia says. “We can grow larger, fuller plants. We have four-foot trees, bushes and the common six- and four-inch pots as well.”

Contrary to the common myth, Marcia assures, poinsettia leaves are not poisonous. The National Capital Poison Center advises that the flowers may be mildly irritating to the stomach if eaten in large quantities, but are pet-safe.

During your Poinsettia Party visit, you’ll have the chance to peruse the holiday offering of Uncle John’s charming retail Home & Garden store.

“Along with candles and unique, holiday-oriented gifts that you’re not likely to find at the big box stores, we also have all of the essentials for holiday decorating, like wreaths, ribbon, evergreens, assorted berries, twigs and planters,” Marcia says. “We have a designer to help you create your wreath.”

The Poinsettia Party may kick off your holidays, but Uncle John’s has more to come throughout the season.

For example, you can support family operations like Uncle John’s and buck the Black Friday chaos at Uncle John’s Small Business Saturday Sale. Gift cards are available for those who aren’t as easy to shop for.

Uncle John’s, which includes 20 acres of gardens, greenhouses and the retail Home & Garden store, has become a must-visit home and garden center since John and his family purchased it in 1974 from United Growers, which started in 1923.

After Thanksgiving and through the Christmas season, Uncle John’s will conveniently stay open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Uncle John’s is located at 8579 Columbia Road (Rt. 252) in historic Olmsted Falls. For more information, you can call 440-235-3252 or visit UncleJohnsPlants.com.