COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Children in unfortunate situations find hope at the Palmer Home for Children. It is a home for children who have no place else to turn, and it provides them opportunities to overcome their obstacles and become responsible adults. The Palmer Home is supported entirely by donations, and one of it’s biggest fundraisers is the sale of beautiful holiday poinsettias.
It’s an astonishing sight as you step inside the greenhouse. A sea of red. Poinsettias wall to wall. At the Palmer Home’s Columbus campus, the holiday plants are nurtured as they grow from a small cutting in August, to a healthy full color poinsettia in December. For grower Mary Tuggle and her teenaged helpers, it’s hard work and long hours preparing the plants for the annual fundraiser sale.
“We light them during September at night from 11:00 to 2:00 p.m. with a timer. In mid-September we pinch the tip out, which causes your side bracts to push out, and the bracts are your blooms. We try to keep five to seven blooms per plant. Then during October and half of November we shade them during the night. We come in at 5:30 or 6:00 p.m., the children pull the shade across, and then they come back 6:00 in the morning and pull the black shade off, and we get sunlight during the day. It’s fun, by the time they get to this full grown stage the children are in total awe because they’re seeing the change of the plant, the color,” Tuggle said.
The Palmer Home hopes to sell 3,000 poinsettias. It’s not only a fundraiser for the children, but also a great learning experience.
“It teaches them discipline, accountability, to come to work on time, and to be diligent about being there. We turn around the proceeds and funding to buy shoes, groceries, clothing, whatever is needed for that child. It is a huge fundraiser for us,” Tuggle said.
The beautiful plants are sold for 17 dollars each. They can be picked up at the greenhouses or ordered by phone or online. They will even deliver to a 100 mile radius if you order three or more. But once you have your poinsettia, how do you keep it healthy through the holidays?
“They do not like to be in a hot, hot environment. It’s the drafts that your air gives you in your house that will dry the edges out. We suggest if you’re going to water them, take the foil off, give them a drink of water, let them drain, then put the foil back on. If you’re in a business or church and can’t do that, we put about a half cup of water every other day or so. If it’s cool inside, it’s not going to use as much water,” Tuggle said.
“This fundraiser is great because these children come from a home that’s just not working. It is good for the children here, as well as in the neighborhood, because we are keeping the money local,” Tuggle said.
You can find the Palmer Home greenhouses on 11th Avenue South in Columbus. They usually have enough poinsettias to last until the week of Christmas. For more information on ordering visit, https://palmerhome.org/poinsettias/ or call (662)328-5704.