Decking the halls is traditionally more than holly, mistletoe, greenery and bows; many homes also include the euphorbia pulcherrima, commonly known as the poinsettia.

Decking the halls is traditionally more than holly, mistletoe, greenery and bows; many homes also include the euphorbia pulcherrima, commonly known as the poinsettia.

Ridge Greenhouse and Florist in Oak Ridge, Tenn., grows thousands of poinsettias in a variety of colors in-house, as well as Christmas cactuses and hydrangeas.

Several years ago, the business underwent an extensive state-of-the-art renovation to ensure its crops were as well-grown and healthy as possible, according to Eddie Damewood, manager of the wholesale greenhouses.

Ridge has basically three areas of production: a retail greenhouse, 11 additional houses for the wholesale division and the florist that specializes in fresh cut and silk arrangements.

The greenhouse starts the growing process for the poinsettias in July to have them ready in time for the holiday season.

"We will grow between 8,000 to 10,000 poinsettia cuttings in a variety of over 15 colors to fill orders for the greenhouse, florist and wholesale part of the business," Damewood said.

"Sometimes it feels difficult to compete with the larger national chains,” said owner June McCreight. “But the one thing we hang our hat on is, we stop at nothing to make sure our clientele receives the best customer service and products that can be offered.”

Ridge Greenhouse and Florist is one of the few remaining family-owned and operated businesses in Oak Ridge. Founded by June and Tom McCreight, the company has been in business since 1986. All four McCreight children have worked or continue to work at the business on and off throughout the years, and the greenhouse is currently managed by daughter Katie Campbell.

"We can create any look you want for any occasion,” Campbell said. “Personal attention to detail is the secret to our success.”

Besides selling Christmas poinsettias or other live plants, Ridge Greenhouse and Florist has other services. For instance, custom-designed arrangements in fresh and/or silk; holiday decorating for businesses or residential homes; and custom-designed themes with a large variety of merchandise to choose from.

Contact Beverly Majors at beverly.majors@oakridger.com.

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Poinsettia myth

For many years, it has been rumored that poinsettias are toxic to pets. However, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, poinsettias are not the deadly flowers of the popular legend. The plants are part of a family of plants known as spurges. During the 1820s, Joel Robert Poinsett, the U.S. minister to Mexico, first brought poinsettias to the United States from a Mexican city he had visited. The myth of the plant's toxicity began in the early part of the 20th century when the 2-year-old child of a U.S. Army officer was alleged to have died from consuming a poinsettia leaf.

As a result of this rumor, the toxic potential of poinsettias has become highly exaggerated. In reality, the ingestion of poinsettias typically produces only mild to moderate gastrointestinal tract irritation, which may include drooling, vomiting and/or diarrhea. Keeping this plant out of the reach of your pet to avoid stomach upset is still a good idea, but you need not banish the poinsettia from your home for fear of a fatal exposure.

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Poinsettia care

Caring for poinsettias consists of keeping them away from warm or cold drafts, which can cause premature leaf drop. Don't fertilize when it is in bloom; apply a houseplant fertilizer once a month after it blooms. Overwatering is the No. 1 poinsettias killer. The growers at Ridge Greenhouse recommend using ice cubes to avoid over watering. Depending on the temperature of the room and the size of the plant, 3 to 4 ice cubes daily will help regulate the watering process.

According to the University of Illinois Extension educator Ron Wolford, poinsettias represent 80 percent of all potted plant sales in the United States during the holiday season.