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Home Design with Kevin Sharkey

Decorating with Poinsettias

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Next to holly, mistletoe, and the spruce tree -- poinsettias are a classic holiday plant to arrange in your centerpieces, wreaths, or garlands. The popular and inexpensive plant can be found at your local florist or grocery store and they come in many different colors -- so it is easy to add to your holiday decorations.

In 1998 Martha Stewart Living took a closer look at a greenhouse at the Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, California -- where about 90 percent of the world's poinsettias get their start. I love this story that was in the December/January issue -- the photographs of the rows of poinsettias in the fields and in the greenhouses give me inspiration to add them into my holiday arrangements.

I have some of my favorite photos from the 1998 feature and I have also included some holiday decorating ideas with poinsettias.

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Tree-shaped poinsettias, known as 'Grande Topiaries,' await packing and shipping in one of the thirty-five acres of greenhouses at the Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, California, where about 90 percent of the world's poinsettias get their start.

1 Tree-shaped poinsettias, known as 'Grande Topiaries,' await packing and shipping in one of the thirty-five acres of greenhouses at the Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, California, where about 90 percent of the world's poinsettias get their start.

Pictured here are 14 different types of poinsettias: snowcap white, da vinci, puebla, marble star, maren, enduring pink, monet, plum pudding, cortez burgundy, jingle bells, winter rose pink, strawberries 'n cream, freedom red, and holly point.

2 Pictured here are 14 different types of poinsettias: snowcap white, da vinci, puebla, marble star, maren, enduring pink, monet, plum pudding, cortez burgundy, jingle bells, winter rose pink, strawberries 'n cream, freedom red, and holly point.

Here you can see the polinating of the poinsettias.

3 Here you can see the polinating of the poinsettias.

A photograph outside of the poinsettia farm.

4 A photograph outside of the poinsettia farm.

Plants are grown as single-stem speciments, or multibloom for hanging baskets.

5 Plants are grown as single-stem speciments, or multibloom for hanging baskets.

'Lemon Drop' is the only yellow poinsettia among the thirty kinds available.

6 'Lemon Drop' is the only yellow poinsettia among the thirty kinds available.

On this specific farm, poinsettias are now grown inside in greenhouses.

7 On this specific farm, poinsettias are now grown inside in greenhouses.

Plants are sleeved (wrapped in protective paper) before being shipped.

8 Plants are sleeved (wrapped in protective paper) before being shipped.

In the greenhouses, raised beds are steam-headed to sterilize the soil.

9 In the greenhouses, raised beds are steam-headed to sterilize the soil.

Photographed here is a tree-shaped poinsettia.

10 Photographed here is a tree-shaped poinsettia.

A hanging basket of 'Pink Peppermint' makes an attractive alternative to a tabletop plant.

11 A hanging basket of 'Pink Peppermint' makes an attractive alternative to a tabletop plant.

Here is a 'Monet' poinsettia.

12 Here is a 'Monet' poinsettia.

A ruler is being used to measure the poinsettia leaves.

13 A ruler is being used to measure the poinsettia leaves.

'Angelika Marble' is pink with creamy white marbled accents on its bracts.

14 'Angelika Marble' is pink with creamy white marbled accents on its bracts.

'Lemon Drop,' an early bloomer, flowers around Thanksgiving.

15 'Lemon Drop,' an early bloomer, flowers around Thanksgiving.

This medium-height 'Angelika White' has full branches.

16 This medium-height 'Angelika White' has full branches.

I love the shapes and color of this poinsettia.

17 I love the shapes and color of this poinsettia.

The full and compact 'Freedom Red,' one of the newer red varieties, was bred to hold its color a long time.

18 The full and compact 'Freedom Red,' one of the newer red varieties, was bred to hold its color a long time.

The flowers on 'Pink Curly' plants form compact rosettes.

19 The flowers on 'Pink Curly' plants form compact rosettes.

The speckled 'Jingle Bells' has red bracts flecked with pink.

20 The speckled 'Jingle Bells' has red bracts flecked with pink.

Workers at the ranch in the 1930s harvested poinsettias as field-grown plants, which was the standard practice for producing cut flowers. But since the 1960s, the Ecke family has grown all of its crops indoors.

21 Workers at the ranch in the 1930s harvested poinsettias as field-grown plants, which was the standard practice for producing cut flowers. But since the 1960s, the Ecke family has grown all of its crops indoors.

Dormant root stocks are packed for shipping in the 1930s.

22 Dormant root stocks are packed for shipping in the 1930s.

Paul Ecke, Sr., (right) with a worker in the field in the 1950s.

23 Paul Ecke, Sr., (right) with a worker in the field in the 1950s.

Elegant 'Maren' poinsettia topiaries (from a nursery) are planted in painted iron orangery boxes and topped with crushed marble. Because poinsettias don't require much natural light, they're ideal to use in a vestibule or hallway.

24 Elegant 'Maren' poinsettia topiaries (from a nursery) are planted in painted iron orangery boxes and topped with crushed marble. Because poinsettias don't require much natural light, they're ideal to use in a vestibule or hallway.

A quartet of pink-streaked Strawberries 'n Cream poinsettias in tall, simple ceramic pots rest on a bed of one-half-inch crushed marble in a stainless steel tray. The effect is quiet but stunning.

25 A quartet of pink-streaked Strawberries 'n Cream poinsettias in tall, simple ceramic pots rest on a bed of one-half-inch crushed marble in a stainless steel tray. The effect is quiet but stunning.

Most people think of them as potted plants, so poinsettias are pleasantly unexpected as cut flowers. We mixed 'Cortez Burgundy' with pinecones and blue atlas cedar branches and placed them in floral foam in a tole container. Snowy dusty miller completes the arrangement.

26 Most people think of them as potted plants, so poinsettias are pleasantly unexpected as cut flowers. We mixed 'Cortez Burgundy' with pinecones and blue atlas cedar branches and placed them in floral foam in a tole container. Snowy dusty miller completes the arrangement.

Miniature 'Enduring Pink' poinsettias in a ceramic dish make a lush, low, and delightfully easy centerpiece: the plants are still in their plasti pots. A glass tumbler with a poinsettia leaf fashioned from white chocolate graces each place setting.

27 Miniature 'Enduring Pink' poinsettias in a ceramic dish make a lush, low, and delightfully easy centerpiece: the plants are still in their plasti pots. A glass tumbler with a poinsettia leaf fashioned from white chocolate graces each place setting.

Even though they are not real poinsettia plants, they make the perfect ornaments and decorations and can be used year after year on your Christmas tree.

28 Even though they are not real poinsettia plants, they make the perfect ornaments and decorations and can be used year after year on your Christmas tree.

Instead of putting the poinsettia inspired ornaments on a tree, you can tie them with ribbon around your napkin to make the perfect napkin ring/holder.

29 Instead of putting the poinsettia inspired ornaments on a tree, you can tie them with ribbon around your napkin to make the perfect napkin ring/holder.

A fireplace seems even warmer when draped in a garland of blue atlas cedar and seeded eucalyptus boughs, which are puncutated with five varieties of pink and red poinsettias.

30 A fireplace seems even warmer when draped in a garland of blue atlas cedar and seeded eucalyptus boughs, which are puncutated with five varieties of pink and red poinsettias.

In France and othe rEuropean countries, children leave empty shoes out on Christmas Eve for Santa to fill with gifts. In a twist on this tradition, a family's rubber botts are heaped with presents adorned with crepe paper poinsettias, which are lovely gifts in themselves.

31 In France and othe rEuropean countries, children leave empty shoes out on Christmas Eve for Santa to fill with gifts. In a twist on this tradition, a family's rubber botts are heaped with presents adorned with crepe paper poinsettias, which are lovely gifts in themselves.

A 'PUebla' poinsettia placed in a water-filled floral tube and tucked into a handmade linen pouch is a memorable gift and a gorgeous addition to a Christmas tree; tie one to a branch with ribbons from the pouch.

32 A 'PUebla' poinsettia placed in a water-filled floral tube and tucked into a handmade linen pouch is a memorable gift and a gorgeous addition to a Christmas tree; tie one to a branch with ribbons from the pouch.

Here are the Puebla poinsettias in a handmade linen pouch.

33 Here are the Puebla poinsettias in a handmade linen pouch.

'Lilo Pink,' grown as a mini single-stem plant, reaches five to seven inches in height.

34 'Lilo Pink,' grown as a mini single-stem plant, reaches five to seven inches in height.

Blog Editor Cayla Rasi's parents, George and Patricia, used to throw holiday parties every December -- they would purchase potted poinsettias in advance for the event and they would spread them out on a variety of tables and mantels to decorate different locations in their home. When their guests would leave the soiree, George and Patricia would hand out one poinsettia per guest. By the end of the party, the poinsettias cleared out and friends of the Rasi's were sent home with a festive gift. I love this idea of using your decorations as presents -- it makes the holiday party clean-up much faster and guests are reminded of the party for weeks after the event.

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Comments (7)

  • I love the topieary looking poinsettias! I've never seen those before! I would love to know how to do that - they are so pretty!

  • Poinsettias, beautiful plants for the holidays. I enjoy having them around the house. I get the red poinsettias during December month and then in May they turn green which amazes me. I love the different colors you posted, so beautiful!

  • My husbands owns 22 flower shops in PA and Ohio, poinsettias are a wonderful holiday gift idea and great for decorating. This is a wonderful article in how you can decorate for the the holidays and how flowers/plant really get your spirits up. Thank you again for a great article, Cindy Royer

  • thanks for all the tips in using poinsettia plants...what a wonderful way to show the magnificient colors around the house. I enjoyed the the tree trimmings...very interesting.
    Have a wonderful holiay season an again thanks for sharing. The Rasi Family 2010

  • You actually make it seem so easy with your
    presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I
    think I would never understand. It seems too
    complex and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post,
    I'll try to get the hang of it!

  • It's actually a great and helpful piece of info. I am satisfied that you simply shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

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