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Rare tours offer glimpse into poinsettia greenhouses

Poinsettias put Encinitas on the map, but how they’re grown remains a mystery to many.

Free tours next weekend at Weidner’s Gardens aim to change that. Employees will lead hour-long walkthroughs of the site’s two acres of poinsettia-growing operations starting at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. on Nov. 22, and at noon and 2 p.m. on Nov. 23. The tours, held annually, usually last just under an hour.

“It’s rare that a poinsettia grower actually let’s people in the greenhouse,” said Oliver Storm, head grower at Weidner’s Gardens. “They’ll see the different sizes, colors and varieties.”

Storm noted the weekend-long event only happens once a year because regularly opening up the greenhouses would disrupt the growing process. But two days is enough to satisfy the public’s curiosity.

“People find poinsettias interesting,” he said. “The public is generally pretty curious about them. And we want to help them learn more.”

One likely reason for the public’s interest, he said, is because of the flower’s history in Encinitas.

The Eckes, who relocated to Encinitas more than 90 years ago, made poinsettias into a holiday staple with hard work and clever marketing (they gave samples to the Tonight Show and national magazines, for instance.)

Poinsettias were grown commercially at Ecke Ranch, off of Saxony Road, until 2008. But with globalization knocking on the door of the flower industry, production moved offshore at that time. Two years ago, the Leichtag Foundation bought that site, dedicating much of it to innovative agriculture.

“You don’t really see poinsettias grown in the coastal parts of the county anymore,” Storm said. “The land values are too high.”

He added: “So this is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.

Along with learning about the history, visitors will get tips on growing poinsettias and keeping them blooming.

Weidner’s Gardens is located at 695 Normandy Road in Encinitas, 92024; www.weidners.com.


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