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University of Florida

Consumers to choose from more than 100 varieties at annual UF/IFAS poinsettia sale

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Cultivars, Families and Consumers, IFAS

2012 Horticulture Club's Poinsettia Show and Sale on Thursday, December 6th.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When people shop at this year’s 20th annual poinsettia sale at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, they may be surprised that not all poinsettias are red.

The sale, held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 8 and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 9, takes place at the greenhouses behind Fifield Hall, 2550 Hull Road, Gainesville, Florida, on the UF campus. For more information on this year’s UF/IFAS poinsettia sale, click here.

Traditionally, consumers prefer red poinsettias, said Jim Barrett, a UF/IFAS professor emeritus of environmental horticulture who still plays a large role in UF/IFAS poinsettia trials. But as a result of breeding, the bright red poinsettia is now available in burgundy, pink, peach, white, yellow and marbled colors.

In fact, this year, a new, popular poinsettia is the ‘Love You Pink,’ Barrett said. “It’s not a traditional Christmas red,” Barrett said. “But it’s so popular, you’ll find it in retail outlets this year.”

Breeders worldwide send their latest poinsettia varieties to UF/IFAS, where scientists test how well they’ll grow in Florida’s sub-tropical environment, Barrett said. Nurseries use information from UF/IFAS experts to make sure they can grow the latest and best varieties for their customers.

“I loosely describe what we do as being like a movie critic,” he said of the 138 varieties that will be on display. “We don’t create the product. We evaluate it and tell you what’s good and bad about it.”

For people who will buy poinsettias at this year’s sale, they’ll take them home and use them for holiday decorations. But they’ll want to make sure the plants get plenty of light, so you’ll want to keep them in bright light. They can be replanted on the homeowner’s landscape, Barrett said. Poinsettias are “short day” plants that blooms when days are short and nights are long – like we see this time of year.

They grow well in areas where prolonged freezes are not normal. Indeed, they grow best in temperatures that range from 65 degrees at night and 75 to 80 during the day, according to UF/IFAS Extension documents. In other words, they don’t do well north of North Central Florida, Barrett said.

Here are a few other facts:

  • Poinsettias are not poisonous, contrary to a popular misconception.
  • The plant is native to Mexico, and the Aztecs used them in their fall celebrations. The plant’s name comes from Joel Poinsett, who introduced the plant to the U.S. in 1825. At that time, he was ambassador to Mexico.

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The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

Source: Jim Barrett, jbarrett@ufl.edu

 

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