A grower has produced a rarer white variety of poinsettia, the popular Christmas house plant with distinctive red foliage.
Bridge Farm Group, based in Spalding, Lincolnshire, is one of the UK’s biggest growers of poinsettias and now cultivates more than a million per year as a result of their increasing popularity.
They have increased their supply of poinsettias to supermarket chain Tesco by almost 1,000% in the last five years, taking over from the Dutch as the main supplier.
Bridge Farm Group has this year grown white Alaska poinsettias which originate from Sabaudia, a town 100km (62 miles) south of Rome in Italy.
David Brown, managing director of Bridge Farm Group, said he was “excited to see how popular the white ones are with shoppers this year”.
“There are more than 100 different poinsettia varieties in shades of red, pink, white, yellow, orange, purple and even multi-coloured ones so we’ll be excited to see how popular the white ones are with shoppers this year,” he said.
Poinsettias originated in Mexico where they originally grew much like a weed.
They got the name “poinsettia” after Joel Roberts Poinsett who was a representative of the United States to Mexico as well as a keen botanist.
They were successfully cultivated in the US during the early 1900s by a German immigrant named Albert Ecke.
Later generations of the Ecke family successfully marketed poinsettias as a Christmas-themed plant during the second half of the 20th century, and they are now widely associated with festive cheer.
Tesco plant buyer Vicky l’Anson said: “Over the last few decades poinsettias have established themselves as the number one gifting flower over the festive season and are as much a symbol of the start of Christmas as mince pies.
“This year for the first time ever we’ll have the White Alaska which we think will create a real ‘wow’ factor with shoppers.”
The poinsettia season is one of the shortest for house plants as they remain in stores for roughly eight weeks – from the end of October until the end of December.
The white poinsettias go on sale at Tesco stores across the UK from Friday December 8 and cost £12 each.