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A Sea of Poinsettias

Walk into the greenhouses at Mitchell’s Nursery and Greenhouse in King, and you might feel a little like you’ve walked into the final scenes of the Rankin and Bass Christmas special “Frosty the Snowman,” where Frosty keeps Karen warm in a greenhouse full of poinsettias. Only there are even more poinsettias at Mitchell’s greenhouse!

Judy and Jim Mitchell have been growing great plants at their nursery since 1979, but about eleven years ago they decided to expand their offerings of poinsettias. “I love to grow anything different, and we’re always experimenting with something new, so it only made since to try out new types of poinsettias,” Judy said. After approaching some breeders at a garden show, Judy and Jim started with their trials. They are one of only two commercial greenhouses in the state to hold poinsettia trials.

It all starts with the baby plants that are shipped to Mitchell’s around the first of August. Then in early December, the Mitchells hold a special open house to show off the beautiful poinsettias to the public, and allow visitors to vote on their favorite. This year’s trials included some non-traditional colors, including the golden -tinged ‘Autumn Leaf’ and a burnt-orange ‘Orange Spice.’ After the open house the Mitchells send the results to the breeders, along with their own records of how the plants fared. It’s a great way for those of us here in Stokes County to influence the future of poinsettias and have a say in which colors we like best!

In addition to the unique trial plants, the Mitchells have plenty of traditional, tried-and-true varieties of poinsettias. After all, they grow between 8,000 and 9,000 plants each year, in about 90 different varieties. Some of the favorites are ‘Ruby Frost’, which has mingled colors of red and pink on its petals, and ‘Shimmer Surprise’, another mingled plant but this one in red and white. Then there’s ‘Winter Rose’, with double blooms that make the leaves have a curly look. And of course, there’s always your traditional red poinsettia that never goes out of style.

Poinsettias make a great gift for that person who already has everything. “I like to put a different variety in each room,” Judy said. She offers a few tips to keep your poinsettia looking nice from the time you take it home up until Christmas, and even after.
• Give it plenty of light.
• Keep it away from heat vents and doors where you might have a draft coming in.
• Water only as needed, and don’t let it sit in water.

Make a stop by Mitchell’s Greenhouse and Nursery today. You might just finish off that Christmas shopping list!

For another look at Mitchell’s, check out their story on News 2.