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Poinsettias are big business for nurseries

Posted: December 8, 2013 - 12:01am
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Judy Sanderlin, owner of Sanderlin Green Houses in Appling, looks over the crop of 5,000 poinsettia plants that they grew for the holiday season. The company sells both wholesale and retail.  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Judy Sanderlin, owner of Sanderlin Green Houses in Appling, looks over the crop of 5,000 poinsettia plants that they grew for the holiday season. The company sells both wholesale and retail.

Sanderlin Green Houses in Appling is known for its spring crop of flowers, but it’s also famous for its large showing of poinsettias each December.

The Sanderlins start growing the poinsettias in early August, according to owner Judy Sanderlin.

“We get them in as rooted cuttings about 3 to 4 inches tall,” she said. “We get them into pots and give them a lot of TLC.”

Sanderlin’s son, Eddie, is chiefly responsible for the poinsettias and checks on them several times a day during the August to December growing period.

“He checks on them three to four times a day,” said Sanderlin, adding that the nearly 5,000 poinsettias are grown in 10 greenhouses. “We have a fertilizer injector that we use. They like different kinds of fertilizer and there are different things you give them at different times. We also give them a fungicide to help prevent root rot and stem rot.”

In business for 42 years, the Sanderlins began growing poinsettias about 38 years ago as a means to keep the business going during the offseason.

“We needed something for this time of year to bring money in and keep the employees,” said Sanderlin. “All of our employees, except me and my son, are part-time.”

Sanderlins offers extended hours during the month – they are open from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 2-5 p.m. on Sundays – all the way through Christmas Eve.

Sanderlin said unsold poinsettias are donated to area nursing homes and hospice centers.

“We don’t want them to go to waste,” she said. “That way, someone gets to enjoy them.”

Sanderlin said oftentimes, a poinsettia donated by her nursery is the first one that many have had.

“So many have not ever had one,” she said. “It brings us joy to be able to do that.”

It’s that community spirit that has kept the Sanderlins in business all these years. When asked if she ever imagined her small business would grow to what it is today, Sanderlin emphatically replied, “No! Not at all! We never really did think it would go to this.”

From humble beginnings – the business started in a 16-by-16 greenhouse – and a lot of hard work, the nursery has grown to a favorite stop for area gardeners. While big box stores have presented their own challenge, they haven’t kept the local nursery from folding.

“We can’t compete with them on their level,” said Sanderlin. “What we have tried to do is to grow quality plants that people would like to have and grow in their yard. We’re going to be here as long as the good Lord allows us.”

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