CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The largest single-site greenhouse in the country is just outside of Charlotte. Huntersville is home to the site that covers 200 acres and sells millions of plants to more than a dozen big box stores across the southeast and mid-Atlantic.
A velvet sea of red poinsettias is breathtaking at the indoor farm. Metrolina Greenhouses are fully stocked in time for the holiday season.
Three million poinsettias will be shipped to stores all along the east coast from Huntersville.
“People are buying earlier, so we actually started this week, a week earlier than we usually do for shipping poinsettias," Abe VanWingerden said. "So, if you want to get them, get them now."
Owners of the greenhouse -- which is the largest heated under-glass greenhouse in the U.S. -- say the controlled environment is a critical part of their operation.
“Some of these poinsettias, we trick them a little bit," Art VanWingerden said. "We put black cloth over them, so they turn on time for when the retailers want them."
They said the family-owned business has seen a big growth spurt in the past two years since the start of the pandemic and sold 75 million plants per year.
“We think for the next three to five years, it will grow even more," Abe VanWingerden said. "People have taken a new transition of working from home, schooling from, doing a lot of things from home -- and when they do that they beautify their home."
With 1,400 employees at two locations, Abe VanWingerden says they are still in need of more workers to meet demand. In addition, the company says there are supply chain issues that vary day to day.
“Everything you read about in the news is impacting us as well," Abe VanWingerden said "For the sleeves that go around poinsettias, the little decorative hats that go on poinsettias, we’re making it through. Stuff we used to get by October 1st, we're getting by November 10th now."
Still, he says the future is merry and bright, and consumers shouldn’t expect to see a big jump in price for these poinsettias.
All three million poinsettias will be gone in a matter of weeks. Up next, they'll start planting for their busiest season of the year -- spring.