The year 2015 might have been one that many were glad to see in the rear view mirror, but for poinsettia growers, it was a good sales year — perhaps the strongest in quite a while.
Compared to 2014, which was also widely deemed a success among growers for its seasonal cold at just the right time, good weather for shipping, and a good holiday spirit, the 2015 season was solid for a number of reasons. The weather, a rebounding economy, and increased demand all contributed to what growers said was a “very strong” sales season.
“It was a strong year beginning to end due to great weather and quality product as the market demanded,” said Dan Chaney of Ivy Acres, in Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Poinsettia Survey.
“Sales were strong. Demand was better than the previous two years,” said Larry Windham of Windham Greenhouses Inc.
“Very good. The strongest of the last few seasons. Our biggest shortcoming was not being aggressive with our production plan,” said Trevor Bredenberg of Lynde Greenhouse & Nursery.
Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Poinsettia Survey received 165 responses from growers of all sizes around the country.
Some growers said the season started slow, perhaps due to the mild, El Niño winter conditions. But in other areas, growers experienced an early start and an early finish.
“Good strong early market; finished out a little soft at the end,” said Mark Landa of Boulevard Flower Gardens. “Still plenty of plants around of all types of quality.”
John Moreira of the Sisters of Humility of Mary/Villa Maria Farm said, “Pre-season sales were very good. We were sold out by Thanksgiving.”
Unseasonably warm weather caused some problems in some parts of the country, though — especially at retail.
“It was a hot year in the South,” said Craig Roth of Sunshine Growers. “We had to sell out quickly and plants did not have a good shelf life.”
More than half (57%) of the respondents to our 2015 Survey said they are grower-retailers, 38% are wholesale growers, and 6% are young plant growers.
Grower respondents from the U.S. are located in the Midwest (33%), Southeast (23%), Northeast (21%), Southwest (6%), and West (6%), and 8% of respondents are not in the U.S.
As in the past, growers with 50,000 to 100,000 square feet of greenhouse space provided the largest number of responses (62%). The next largest groups were 100,000 to 250,000 (15%), 500,000 to 1 million square feet (11%), 1 to 3 million square feet (5%), and 250,000 to 500,000 square feet (4%). Another 1% had 3 to 5 million square feet and 0.7% had 8 to 10 million square feet.
“It was a good season with very little inventory left over,” said Chris Rogers of B&M Greenhouse. “We will increase larger pot size numbers for 2016 and slightly decrease small pot quantities.”
2015 Was A Stellar Year For Poinsettia Production
Of our 165 respondents, 71% said they grew poinsettias in 2015, down from 82% in 2014. Compared to 2014 when 36% reported no change in production and 2013, when 43% reported flat production, in 2015, 32% of growers kept their production numbers the same. Meanwhile, 48% reported an increase in production, up from 38% in 2014, and 20% said they decreased crop size in 2015, down from 26% in 2014.
“We had an exceptional crop in 2015,” said Chris Garcia of Speedling, Inc.
And more growers are producing poinsettias to increase their operations’ profit margins (62%) than to cover overhead costs (38%).
Growers fared well with production in 2015, as 12% of growers said they didn’t dump a single poinsettia, and 62% said they dumped less than 5% of their 2015 crop. Another 20% said they dumped between 5% and 10%, while 6% of growers dumped up to 20%.
“We had a good season,” said Jeff Harpt of Schroeder’s Fox Valley Greenhouse. “We sold out and had very little dumpage.”
Consumers Gravitating Toward Smaller Sizes, Traditional Colors
Anecdotally, many growers said the market is shifting to smaller sizes and less specialty products. One grower said he didn’t sell out of his 10-inch, seven-plant hanging baskets like usual. Generally, growers said sales for larger sizes were slower, perhaps because of price.
Once again, the 6.5-inch poinsettia size was the top seller at retail in 2015 for 59% of growers, and the 6-inch size came in second with 23% of growers saying that size sold best. The 8-inch size was a bestseller for 9% of growers and the 10-inch size was successful for 4%. On average, both wholesale and retail prices were similar to 2014, with slight fluctuations depending on size.
It’s no surprise that red was the top-selling color in 2015, as it is in every year. Just 3% of growers said their novelty varieties sold even better than the traditional red.
To keep red varieties in stock, most growers produced three or fewer poinsettia varieties (49%). Another 34% said they produce four to six varieties, 3% produce seven to nine reds and 14% grow 10 or more red varieties.
“It was definitely a red year,” said Don Darby of Darby Greenhouses & Farms, Inc. “Whites were in demand. Colors or novelties seemed to be weaker.”
Growers said the mild temperatures caused some of their usually best-selling varieties to not color up well, or to get color too late. Some plants in the white range didn’t hold their color well, either.
The unseasonably warm season also caused some height issues with larger plants, as well as lack of vigor, weak stems, and bract bruising, growers said.
“Plants were slower to color up, plus they were shorter in stature,” said Linda Zoerb at La Crosse Floral.
A grower at Stewart Farms said, “The extremely wet fall resulted in less fertilizer and less watering. “Plants were noticeably smaller, which is very unusual for us.”
Takeaways From The 2015 Poinsettia Season
• Warm, mild weather caused production problems for some growers, but improved sales
• Consumers are gravitating toward smaller sizes, traditional colors
• Red remains the most popular color, and growers are producing several varieties to keep them in stock at retail throughout the selling season
• 2015 was a great year for poinsettia sales, and most growers are planning to continue production in 2016