Growing poinsettias is a tough business

Andy Uhler Dec 28, 2015
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Growing poinsettias is a tough business

Andy Uhler Dec 28, 2015
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Another Christmas is in the books. This week, a lot of Americans will likely be boxing up all the lights and ornaments and getting rid of the tree. Also getting tossed: all those poinsettias  however you pronounce it.

Putting poinsettias in a shopping cart feels like Christmas for a lot of people. But the truth is, they don’t make anyone much money. Charlie Hall, a professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at the Texas A&M University, said the prices today often don’t match labor costs.

“I saw one mass merchandiser this winter selling for 99 cents,” he said. “There’s no way those growers were making a profit.”

According to the USDA, poinsettias accounted for $241 million in sales for 2014. But Hall explained the sale isn’t why they’re still being planted. It’s not about cheer either.

“They’re simply wanting to keep their workforce employed,” he said. “And they’re growing poinsettias so that they make some contribution to margin.”

All right, economics aside, let’s get down to business: Hall pronounced it, “poin-sett-ee-uh.”

Some say “poinsett-uh.” Mark Liberman, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania, said both are right … or wrong.

“I say poinsettia myself, but that’s just cause it was how I learned it,” he said. “If I said poinsettia, I’d feel perfectly comfortable going on talking that way.”

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