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Poinsettias bloom throughout BYU campus during holidays

BYU Greenhouse offers tips on keeping plants fresh

The Brigham Young University campus got a little infusion of holiday cheer in the form of more than 2,000 red, white and pink poinsettias delivered during the first week of December.

Greenhouse manager Hannah Petersen said that departments all over campus ordered the flowers to decorate their offices.

"This year we're growing about 2,200 poinsettias," Petersen said. "That's operating our greenhouse at full capacity. We probably put a few more in than we should have."

BYU Director of Grounds Maintenance Roy S. Peterman said the poinsettia program does not make money for the grounds organization, but is an opportunity to serve the campus. He said it helps out those who order the poinsettias because they don't have to spend time shopping around for what might be a lower-quality product.

"It's our Christmas greeting to the entire campus," Peterman said. "The plants are grown at cost, but we appreciate the opportunity to serve."

Petersen said the greenhouse purchases starter plants from wholesale growers in Salt Lake City, and then grows enough to supply demand from orders taken in the fall.

"I think they are popular because they are a winter-blooming flower," Petersen said. "The classic poinsettia color of red with green underfoliage is so Christmasy."

Petersen also gives tips for maintaining the health and beauty of your poinsettia.

1) Know how to water your poinsettia effectively. "Water the plant when the soil at the top of the pot feels slightly dry," she said. "Also, poinsettias are susceptible to root rot, so if there is standing water at the bottom of the pot, be sure to pour that out."

2) Don't expose plants to extremes in temperature. "The plants do not like to be in cold drafts or warm drafts," Petersen said. "Keep them away from radiators and heaters, because the color will bleach out." She also said putting the plant in a sunny window is a great idea as long as the leaves are not touching the cold window.

3) Keep your plant in good shape for the season. Petersen says a great way to groom the plants is to gently pull off dead leaves. She also said that while the plant is in bloom, there is no need to fertilize it.

4) Be careful when moving your poinsettia. Going back to temperature control, Petersen says poinsettias do not do well in temperatures below 55 degrees. "Keep your poinsettia indoors as much as possible," she said. "If you have to go outside while transporting your plant, cover it loosely with a garbage bag to keep the plant from getting too cold."

Writer: Rachel M. Sego

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