Yes Virginia, there are Poinsettia Alternatives!

One of the annual Christmas traditions in our house here in Australia is the yearly pilgrimage to buy poinsettias for both gifts and decoration (and each year I ask myself why I keep repeating this!)

This, combined with the annual requirement to choose a tree, always proves to be a challenge, particularly when I look at the cost of the plants versus what I actually get – and knowing that both of these items really are treated as disposable plants after the holidays.

This is the time of year where I compare the pricing of poinsettias here in Australia with what I see in the USA, lamenting the cost of a 6” poinsettia retailing here for $8.98 or higher because of the old supply-and-demand equation. There’s no doubt about it, our Aussie producers and retailers have a completely captive audience – all willing to pay those prices.

I’m not one to normally complain about the price of plants. For the most part, they are inexpensive investments when costs are amortized over the plants’ life span and the benefits that a living gift offer. However, I still find it hard to take the prices we pay here in Australia compared to the US, where poinsettia are sold at ridiculously cheap prices.

poinsettias_1376

Millions of red poinsettias are sold in the US each year.

Poinsettias are grown in their millions each year across the US, often retailing for under $5 simply because they are considered a short-term decorative item that is, along with wreaths, holiday displays and amaryllis, disposed of after the holidays.

poinsettias at grower facility

Although the most popular color continues to be red, pink is gaining in popularity

Note: Interestingly enough, despite the multitude of colours and breeding done with Poinsettias, the most popular colour continues to be red, taking 90% of the poinsettia sales each year, followed by pink and white.

Knowing that thousand and thousands of these plants are thrown away annually because they have fulfilled their decorative purpose is not something that fits with our family’s focus on sustainable practices in the community, especially when you consider the resources (water, electricity, etc.) that goes into producing them. So, for that reason, this year I am looking at options to replace the throw-away mentality of the poinsettia. (And yes, I know they can be planted outside in the right climate, but we seldom have success with this transition whilst we’re at summer’s highest heat).

These red petunias from Harris Seeds make a great option to poinsettias for those living south of the equator

These red petunias from Harris Seeds make a great option to poinsettias for those in the warmest climates

So, instead, I will be using a selection of similarly coloured items that fit with the red and green theme but which make the leap to being planted in the garden after they have fulfilled their decorative duties.

This year, along with some red petunia (also some lovely bi-colour red and white petunia and impatiens), I will be decorating the house with one our lovely plants – Hydrangea Strawberries & Cream®.

 

gift hydrangeas

Strawberries & Cream hydrangea will take the place of poinsettias at our brunch table this hoiday.

 

lace-cap hyrangea

Strawberries & Cream planted in Silvan, AU trial gardens but on a magnificent display!

Gift hydrangeas planted in garden

Planted out into the garden after the holiday, Strawberries & Cream hydrangea add color and interest.

This beautiful lace-cap variety (which by coincidence is also available around Mothers Day in the USA and makes a great gift) can be planted in the garden when the Christmas season is over – and just have a look at the great display this then goes on to produce as it matures and blooms year after year in the garden. (Note, in the US Zones 6 and warmer, this plant can be planted in the ground and overwintered as a small decorative garden plant.)

 

Well, with another year over I wish you all a very happy and safe Christmas and Holiday season, and we look forward to having you visit our site next year. Until then Garden on Good People!

 

 

 

bi-colored foliage plant

Looking for another alternative to poinsettias?
Rock & Roll alstroemeria carry those Christmas colors, work beautifully as long lasting cut-flowers and bloom and bloom in Zone 8 and warmer climates

 

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