A RICHMONDSHIRE nursery is alive with colour as more than 12,000 festive poinsettias have gone up for sale ahead of Christmas day.

For almost fifty years, staff at Ravensworth Nurseries in Richmond in North Yorkshire, have been meticulously cultivating the red, cream and white festive plants.

Each November the plants, which have become a staple in homes during the Christmas period, are rapidly grown for around two weeks before they go on sale.

Matthew Bradbrook, a director at Ravensworth Nurseries, said the team was now gearing up for yet another busy season selling the impressive plants to homes and shops across the county.

He said: "This year we've got different colours, we will be selling them to retail, but saving a few for customers.

"We have been doing this for almost fifty years – we get them in when they are just two inches tall.

"They grow in a temperature of 22 degrees but we slowly turn the temperature down as they grow bigger so they don't get shocked when they go into homes."

Mr Bradbrook said it was imperative that nursery staff monitored temperatures to acclimatise the plants for household temperatures, which he claimed averaged between 14 and 16 degrees.

Last year, Fiona Dean of the nursery described the growing of their poinsettias as a "big red sea", which was constantly "changing" as they matured.

Remaining confident many of the 12,000 poinsettias would be sold, Mr Bradbrook added: "We have a range of poinsettias, we don't want to be left with any especially after Christmas."