The holidays are coming! For many people, it’s the traditional goodies associated with the season that make this their favorite time of year. One of these traditions can be spotted just about everywhere, decorating homes and churches and bringing holiday life to offices and shopping centers – the poinsettia. But this year you might just spot some bright new twists to this customary holiday plant.

Painted Poinsettia

A special floral paint is sprayed on white poinsettias to create blue, orange and lilac seasonal flair.

Photo Credit: Megan Bame

Painted Poinsettia with glitter

Glitter adds a touch of “bling” to the not-so-traditional painted poinsettia.

Photo Credit: Megan Bame

Perhaps you’ve noticed this hot new trend already – the blue, orange, fuchsia, lilac, yellow, turquoise – even metallic – poinsettias. And yes, they’re real…well, sort of. Unlike many of the unusual colors and patterns introduced by poinsettia breeders over the years, these particularly uncommon hues are painted on!

Many poinsettia facilities tap one or two of their employees to be the resident artists for these bright holiday decorations. While the poinsettia artist may be known for his or her creative tendencies, the primary reason for selecting a single painter is to ensure consistent results.

Small-scale growers typically use a squirt bottle to spritz a premixed paint over white poinsettias. But those growers painting thousands of plants mainly opt for a paint concentrate mixed with alcohol that’s applied through an air-pressure paint gun (similar to what’s used in an auto body paint shop).

But wait, there’s more! Once the brightly painted poinsettias are dry, many growers apply a spray adhesive to the leaves, followed by a sprinkling of fine, colored glitter to create a shimmer effect.

If you visit a garden center this holiday season, you might find some of these painted beauties with fancy names – and fancy prices for the premium products. For example, Creamsicle might be an orange-and-white poinsettia with iridescent glitter, or Happy Hanukkah might be blue with silver glitter. Some garden centers even offer custom colors designed for specific customers.

Whether these fancy poinsettias are a passing fad or a new tradition, one thing for sure is they’re hot holiday horticulture. And at the very least, these pretty plants offer us another option in holiday décor!