CSU’s annual holiday poinsettia sale returns

Poinsettias in greenhouse

2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the annual poinsettia sale hosted by the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. With 10 different cultivars available, anyone looking to spruce up their staycation this holiday season can order poinsettias for curbside pickup at the CSU Horticulture Center (1707 Center Ave.) in Fort Collins.

The poinsettia sale will be fully online this year, with orders placed through EventBrite. You can bring your EventBrite receipt to the CSU Horticulture Center and pick up your order Dec. 2 through Dec. 4 from 3 to 6 p.m. Students will meet you at your car and bring your plants out to you, so distance is maintained.

All poinsettias are $10 per 6-inch pot and come with foil pot covers if desired. For more information and to order yours, follow the link here.

Annual program provides hands-on training for students

Upper-level students in the floriculture concentration at CSU participated in an intensive, hands-on practicum course this fall. In this course, students were tasked with raising 500 poinsettias from fledgling cuttings into bodacious holiday décor.

The poinsettias available this season were grown at the CSU Horticulture Center. Just south of the main campus, this state-of-the-art facility supports teaching, research, and collaborative endeavors.

Although the pandemic has disrupted certain areas of instruction, the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture has adapted to maintain some of their in-person lab experiences. The hands-on training students receive offers them an upper hand when they enter the job market.

“A lot of people look at this course and think, ‘what’s the big deal, you just water the plants, right?’” said Joshua Craver, who runs the floriculture practicum. “But students soon realize just how intensive greenhouse production can be.”

Students in the practicum are in complete control of their assigned crop and participate in a range of weekly activities including plant nutrition, soil analysis, graphical tracking, integrated pest management (IPM), plant growth regulator applications, and the management of weekly logs. They put in a lot of hard work over the course of the semester to produce a high-quality crop.

The crux of poinsettia production is the management of daylength (photoperiod). Poinsettias will only develop the iconic colors we love if they are exposed to short days for many weeks. To ensure the poinsettias flower in time for the holidays, students must maintain a strict photoperiod by covering/uncovering the crop every day to simulate short days. If even a little bit of light gets through (e.g., light from a streetlamp) the plants will not perceive a short day and will not flower. While this sounds simple, it requires students to monitor their crop and the environment closely to ensure plants flower on time.

All the money raised during this annual sale will funnel back into the horticulture program, ensuring future students have access to the prized experiential learning the practicum provides. Think of this sale as a ‘pay-it-forward’ program where current students work to raise money for the next students in line.