Hearld and Journal, Dec. 10, 2001

Many of those holiday poinsettias come from local area

By Evelyn Fowler

With Minnesota winter in shades of white, gray, and black, the senses take a bit of adjustment these days walking into Holasek Greenhouse in Lester Prairie.

Almost 10,000 poinsettias are on parade in the greenhouse, strutting their vivid colors.

Poinsettias are the most popular decorative plants for the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Newer cultivars often remain colorful until spring, and with care, do not have to be discarded.

The poinsettia flowers themselves are actually small and inconspicuous. The eye-catching bracts may be red, pink, white, yellow, or marbled; the most popular color is red.

While the majority of the poinsettia plants grown by Fred and Jane Holasek as wholesalers are pre-sold to retail stores, poinsettias are available to the public.

Locals consider the greenhouse one of the areas' best-kept secrets with its wide variety of holiday plants as well as a bulging greenhouse in the spring with bedding plants.

Holaseks grow 22 varieties of poinsettias, beginning the end of June when the unrooted cuttings arrive from California. In August, plants receive a new home in individual containers or cell pots.

Poinsettias are daylight sensitive, requiring only natural sunlight to produce the brilliantly colored foliage. To achieve that goal, artificial lights inside the greenhouse are banned from early September.

Neighboring businesses are requested to have their outside lights tilted away from the greenhouse, and a line of evergreens in front of the greenhouse obscures traffic light.

The end result is a greenhouse overflowing with a multitude of poinsettias in an array of color shades.

Approximately two-thirds of the space used for the poinsettias is devoted to red varieties, of which there are six.

Those varieties are chosen based one the normal maturity date of the variety (early versus late) as well as its color shade.

The remaining 16 varieties are shades of white, pink, along with plum, coral, and marbled. If choosing one plant to buy is too difficult, Holaseks offer pots with more than one variety such as red, pink, and white.

Among the newer varieties released by breeders and available at Holaseks are:

- "Plum Pudding," a new release last year. Its plum coloring will appeal to holiday decorators with a Victorian theme.

- "Winter Rose Red" or Pink are unique for the smaller curled bracts that form a colored topknot reminiscent of a rose

- "Monet" is a soft touch on the color with a cream-colored bract airbrushed with pink.

- "Nobel Star" a solid coral poinsettia.

To complete you holiday decorating needs, Holaseks also offer spruce tips grown and shipped from Duluth, evergreen roping, wreaths, and an array of fresh Christmas trees including the popular Frasier fir.

With the fall season lasting a seemingly extra month, for most people, the past growing season is still a fresh memory.

For the Holaseks, the winter season is peaking with most of the poinsettias ready to ship to retailers, and the spring 2002 season has started. The first pansy seed has been planted and plugs for vinca vine and sprengeri plants will arrive shortly.

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