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Monday, December 06, 2021

North America's largest poinsettia sale returns Thursday

<p>The UF Environmental Horticulture Club is selling poinsettias at the greenhouses behind Fifield Hall on Thursday and Friday. It is the largest poinsettia sale in North America, according to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.</p>

The UF Environmental Horticulture Club is selling poinsettias at the greenhouses behind Fifield Hall on Thursday and Friday. It is the largest poinsettia sale in North America, according to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Its large red leaves are synonymous with Christmas. It's seen in photographs with snow-frosted edges.

But in the six greenhouses behind Fifield Hall, the poinsettia can be found in a variety of colors and sizes, from hot pink "Luv-U-Pink" to bright pink and red "Ice Punch."

More than 6,000 plants have been grown in the heated greenhouses during four months, and 3,000 of them will be sold Thursday and Friday in the 16th annual Poinsettia Show and Sale.

The sale is the UF Environmental Horticulture Club's largest fundraiser and the largest poinsettia sale in North America, according to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

The sale helps fund the club's international horticulture trips and the national horticulture competition.

This year, $3,000 has been budgeted to fund undergraduate students who perform research, said Jim Barrett, a professor of environmental horticulture.

"Without the sale, I don't know what would happen to the club," said Gina DeFalco, the club's secretary and a 22-year-old environmental horticulture senior.

The club raised $20,000 at last year's sale, a consistent figure over the years, Barrett said.

Prices range from $10 to $40, depending on the size, breed and color of the plant, DeFalco said.

There are 160 varieties of plants in the greenhouses.

Mark Keeley, a 22-year-old landscape and nursery management senior, was the designated grower for this year's sale. Each year, Keeley said, Barrett chooses a different student to help grow the plants.

"I make decisions about the amount to grow, the location to grow it in, the pot size, growth regulars and fertilizer applications," Keeley said.

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UF grows the poinsettias to study how the plants fare in Florida's climate. The plants are originally from the mountains of Guatemala and Mexico.

The sale began when consumers expressed an interest in purchasing the plants, and students began to grow plants for sale.

"It's fun to produce for consumers and for academics and for the challenges in producing them," Keeley said.

People line up for the sale early Thursday morning to purchase the multicolored plants, he said.

Adam Moseley, a 26-year-old environmental horticulture senior, stopped by the greenhouse Wednesday to purchase three plants for his mom: one white, one burgundy and one peach plant.

"I figured coming early, I would get premium crop," he said.

The sale will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday.

The UF Environmental Horticulture Club is selling poinsettias at the greenhouses behind Fifield Hall on Thursday and Friday. It is the largest poinsettia sale in North America, according to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

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