DARLINGTON—Red and green overwhelms the eye at Nature’s Gifts Greenhouse and Floral as locally grown poinsettias fill the greenhouse.
Lorri Cwynar and her husband, Dale, opened Nature’s Gifts along Hwy. 81 in Darlington in 1999. Their two children, Blake and Grace, help the family business when they can.
“I actually started out growing poinsettias when we first started the greenhouse, but it actually got a little expensive heat-wise and it was more cost effective for us to buy them than grow them,” Cwynar said. “I really missed doing it.”
Cwynar said she started growing them again last year.
“I like to think that people can buy them here without having a middle man,” Cwynar said. “That’s why our prices are affordable for people, too. We try to really stress quality and have a nice quality plant.”
She said she did a few cuttings of her own poinsettias she had left over from last year.
“I didn’t have enough to provide for the whole season, so we ordered some in, but we did some on our own too,” Cwynar said.
She purchases rooted cuttings in the first week of August.
“It’s kind of a long process,” Cwynar said. “But they love the heat. They’re originally from Mexico, so they love that tropical heat.”
After the cuttings have been potted for about two weeks, Cwynar said she does a pinch on each plant, meaning she takes the tip out of the main plant, forcing the plant to branch out.
“There are so many fun varieties out there,” Cwynar said. “Traditional red is always the most popular, but sometimes people like different colors.”
Cwynar has grown eight different varieties this fall. She said some become colorful sooner than other varieties. She has some that are ready now and others that will get their full color closer to
Christmas. She said the plants take a lot of fertilizer to keep the dark green color. Around mid-November she turns the heat down and stops fertilizing to have them ready by Thanksgiving.
Cwynar said the greenhouse doesn’t have any extra lighting.
“What causes these to turn their colors is the amount of daylight hours they receive,” Cwynar said. “We do this all naturally by the sun.”
In mid-September when the days become 12 hours long with 12-hour long nights, the plants start to change colors.
“So we can’t turn on any lights in here for any length of time because that would delay their coloration,” Cwynar said. “When we first started growing these we thought the security lights next door would be too bright, so we put up black plastic, but it turned out that we don’t have to do that anymore because it wasn’t that bright. If you leave lights on one hour, that would delay one whole day, that’s how much it affects them.”
Cwynar recommended placing your poinsettia in a bright location at home.
“They will continue to turn in your house, just at a slower process because you will have your lights on,” Cwynar said. “But it will continue to change. Water them about once a week. You don’t need to fertilize them at all. They should stay nice and continue to be a nice plant until Valentine’s Day.”
For the holiday season Cwynar makes fresh pine wreaths and supplies all of the decorations needed for them. She also provides grave blankets and cemetery pots. Usually she carries Christmas trees, but is scaling back this
Once Christmas season is over Cwynar will have a short break before starting seeds for spring.
“It’s really a family business,” Cwynar said. “It’s a part of who we are and what we do. Our family is the heart of the business.”
Cwynar said the business name, “Nature’s Gifts” has a lot of meaning to them.
“We can create gifts we can share with everybody,” Cwynar said. “I’ve been given a gift from God to grow these plants and the knowledge and power to share them with everybody.”