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UK: East Yorkshire nursery's poinsettia crop is bigger and brighter than before

A Hull plant nursery has been transformed into a rich carpet of red thanks to the success of this year's poinsettia crop. O'Brien's Nurseries off Cottingham Road provides indoor and outdoor plants to florists and businesses across the region.

The company also grows plants for local authorities and you only need look around the municipal flowerbeds to see some of O'Brien's creations. Now the Hull-based wholesale is preparing to send its annual festive poinsettia plants to shops across the region after good weather and a closely controlled heating system has made the crop bigger and better than last year.

Tony Sharp, of O'Brien's, said: "Poinsettias are becoming quite rare in this country as the cost of growing them has risen sharply. "We have had a really good crop this year as compared with last year there has been a lot more sun.

"They are very dependent on the weather, but they also depend on controlled heating so as the price of fuel has gone up, so has the price of growing them."

The poinsettia did not arrive on British shores until the late 19th century, However the distinctive red crop with its star-shaped bracts (leaves) have become as central to the British Christmas as tinsel, turkey and trimmings. O'Brien's, which was founded by Mike O'Brien, has been growing poinsettias for about 40 years, making it one of the first nurseries in East Yorkshire to grow them.

The high demand for English poinsettias comes from the fact they are a lot more robust compared with the ones from abroad, and O'Brien's uses an oil-burning heating system to ensure its crop can cope with the unpredictable British weather.

The rocketing price of fuel has meant a rising cost for the business, and the heavy snow of 2011 pushed its margins further still.

However the businesses has kept its eye on its bottom line and used its vast experience to meet order requirements – even supplying to other growers who have decided to stop growing poinsettias themselves.

Mr Sharp said: "because we are a wholesaler we don't sell direct to the public, but people will be able to stock up by visiting florists and other businesses. "At the end of the day we are not hugely well known by the public, yet contracts with local authorities and universities means people see our plants and flowers all the time."
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