By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Long before many people start thinking about Christmas decorating, the staff at Fred Holasek & Son Greenhouses in Lester Prairie is busy preparing plants in three of the company’s 20 greenhouses to help customers make the holiday season bright.
From wreaths and garlands to Christmas trees, spruce tips, and poinsettias, Christmas starts early in the greenhouse.
Christmas tree choices include white pine, Scotch pine, balsam fir, Frazer fir, and canaan fir.
The company also offers spruce tips and other greens for holiday decorating.
Owners Fred and Jane Holasek have supplied the local Cub Scout troop with wreaths and garland for their annual sales for more than a decade.
In Lester Prairie, two large pots featuring these items were donated to the city and placed at the entrance to the new gazebo in the city’s downtown park.
The arrangements were created by retail manager Jason Ziermann.
Ziermann is a Lester Prairie native who has been with the company for about eight years, and has been retail manager for the past year.
About 70 percent of the business is wholesale, and Holasek-grown plants can be found across the west metro area.
During the Christmas season, these wholesale customers include small florists, churches, and schools.
The company’s retail business has expanded dramatically in recent years, and during the Christmas season retail customers can browse through three 200-foot-long greenhouses filled with poinsettias to find the perfect plant, Jane said.
The company begins growing the poinsettias in June in an air-conditioned greenhouse.
By Sept. 15, Fred puts up a black out cloth to keep out artificial light at night.
Jane explained that in order for poinsettias to change color, they need dark nights and only natural light during the day.
The shorter fall days trigger the plants to start sending color up into the veins of the leaves at the top of each poinsettia, and this color can be seen starting in mid-October.
These “modified” leaves are now called “bracts” and are the colored blooms on the poinsettia.
The actual flower of the plant is the yellow center of each bract, Jane explained.
The company grows both early and late varieties of poinsettias, so customers can find high-quality plants throughout the Christmas season, Jane said.
The company grows 12 different colors of poinsettias, plus six varieties of red in sizes from 4.5 inch “pixies” to large floor models in 12-inch pots.
The largest pots include four or five plants and are 30 inches tall.
This year, the company grew more than 5,000 pots of poinsettias.
About two-thirds of the crop is red or varieties of red.
Other colors include burgundy, pink, white, Jingle Bells (red with pink splashes), Picasso (ivory with airbrushed dark pink over the blooms), Cinnamon Star (cinnamon colored flecks), Chianti (burgundy red with holly-type tracts), Marble (white leaves with salmon-pink centers), Avante Garde (variegated leaves and blooms in strawberry and cream colors), Silver Star Red and Marble (plants with lighter green leaves that have white edges) and Winter Rose (blooms and leaves curl up to resemble roses).
The company plants some pots with multiple colors in the same pot.
According to Jane, the poinsettia is known in Central America as the “Flower of the Holy Night.”
It was introduced to the US by Dr. Henry Poinsettia, the first US ambassador to Mexico.
Jane’s poinsettia care tips
To keep poinsettias looking great for months:
• keep poinsettias in indirect light away from drafts and heat ducts.
• do not allow the plants to dry out. check often, and water thoroughly.
• to get the plant to bloom again (this is difficult), starting in August, place in a room that does not get any light after sundown, or place in a closet each night, and take it out each morning. Even if the plant does bloom again, the bracts will be smaller than the original.
According to Jane, poinsettias are not poisonous to pets or humans. She said this is a myth that has been around for years.
However, the white, sticky sap inside the stems does contain latex, and because of this, some hospitals have limited display of the plants in their facilities.
More information is available by calling (320) 395-2780, or visiting www.holasekflowerpower.com.
Despite the fact that winter is just beginning, Jane said the company is already preparing for spring, and has added 50 new items, including new types of plants and new colors.