Seasonal celebration of student learning
For four months, students in Colorado State University’s fall floriculture practicum have nursed hundreds of poinsettias from tiny rooted cuttings into vivid holiday plants. The practicum is a course offered through the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture within CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences.
And after a semester of watchful greenhouse gardening, the horticulture students see their poinsettias as more than simple potted plants. The students view their poinsettias as the living embodiment of a seasonal celebration.
1,300 plants, more than 15 poinsettia varieties
Students will share the results of their work during Colorado State University’s 20th poinsettia sale next week at the new CSU Horticulture Center greenhouse on campus. The poinsettia crop, raised by greenhouse crops research associate, Mike Hazlett, and 13 students in this semester’s floriculture practicum, encompasses nearly 1,300 individual plants representing more than 15 poinsettia varieties. The plants, with their color-saturated bracts, come in scarlet, pink and cream; some novelty varieties boast bracts that are speckled, variegated and marbled.
“This is my second year organizing the students of practicum in the poinsettia fundraiser for the new Horticulture Center, and it has been a wonderful experience watching and helping these students apply what they have learned in their undergraduate careers in a practical setting,” said Hazlett. “They did a great job and stuck with it through to the end, and they received some valuable experience in the process, learning what it is like at an ornamental grow operation.”
Hands-on horticulture skills
For years, the department has used its fall floriculture practicum to give students hands-on greenhouse and horticulture skills, said Steve Newman, floriculture professor and greenhouse crops Extension specialist. The class traditionally has focused on poinsettias during the fall semester, which culminates in a public plant sale. A new challenge this year includes learning how to grow plants in the new greenhouses built this year to replace the aging PERC facility, which was removed to make room for the new stadium.
During the semester, practicum students monitor the poinsettias for pests and disease. They fertilize, water, maintain the greenhouse – and, crucially, meet the need for complete darkness at night.
CSU’s 20th annual poinsettia sale is open to the public and will continue Dec. 7-11 (or until the plants are sold) from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.
Location: CSU Horticulture Center, 1707 Centre Ave.
Plants come in 6-inch pots and cost $10 each. There are a few 8-inch pots for $13 each.
- For care and handling information, refer to a CSU Extension fact sheet about poinsettias. It’s available online at the website.
- The poinsettia is the most popular holiday plant sold in America; the plant is the focus of a $9-million wholesale industry in Colorado.
- Poinsettias are native to Mexico and Central America.
- The plants were part of Aztec rituals and, after the arrival of Franciscan missionaries, were incorporated into Christian traditions.
- In 1825, Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. minister to Mexico, introduced the plant to the United States and gave Euphorbia pulcherrima its common name.
About the CSU Horticulture Center
The new CSU Horticulture Center sits at the corner of Bay Drive and Centre Avenue and is a $7.5 million state-of-the-art teaching and research facility. Students and faculty members can conduct research in a modern, controlled environment facility, one that is a resource to both the CSU campus and the Fort Collins community.