Holiday Horticulture: The 200-year history of poinsettias and amaryllis in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Discover the secrets behind the vibrant colors and festive allure of poinsettias. From the warm embrace of Virginia summers to the precise timing of planting in July, the labor of love unfolds as the plants mature just in time for the holiday season.

Virginia flower farmer Maggie Edwards oversees a greenhouse operation that has become a haven for a wide variety of poinsettia in the Shenandoah Valley — From classic red to the whimsical Christmas Mouse with its rounded-edge leaves.

Edwards leads a tour through the greenhouse, where memories of childhood play blend seamlessly with the meticulous cultivation of poinsettias. What was once a retail business has now evolved into a wholesale operation integrated into a diverse family farm portfolio.

However, the history of poinsettia cultivation in the region dates back to 1825 when U.S. Ambassador John Roberts Poinsett brought these captivating red wonders from Mexico.

The amaryllis, which originates in Peru, must undergo a meticulous process that begins long before each bulb embarks on a transcontinental journey. These elegant flowers, undergo a journey of preparation that is steeped in tradition — from washing and drying to cold treatment. The process requires a great deal of care and attention to ensure the vibrant colors of these bulbs dazzle upon arrival in Virginia.

BloomMaker USA also plays a vital part in bringing each holiday horticultural symphony to life. Once the bulbs then travel across oceans to Virginia, BloomMaker USA takes the reins, preparing them to bloom in all their glory. Those blooms are then sold to growers like Edwards who raise them to maturity and connect them with holiday shoppers across America.

The charming amaryllis makes for a perfect, living holiday gift. Its multiple stems promise weeks of joy beyond Christmas and caring for them requires no green thumbs!

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