In a record two and a half minutes, the College Plant Initiative gave away 1,000 free plants to students Friday morning.
This is the second year the UF student organization gave away plants on Turlington Plaza, said Samantha Nuzzi, a 23-year-old senior volunteer and horticulturist.
The group broke its previous record of four minutes when it hosted a plant drop at Texas A&M University.
“We just want to help people explore their passion for plants,” Nuzzi said.
Coleus plants were chosen because they are cheap to raise, sturdy and have bright-colored leaves, making them good plants for beginners and Florida’s climate, Nuzzi said.
The plants retail for about $4 each, but the group gave them out for free with sponsorships from Altman Plants, American Floral Endowment, Proven Winners and Scott’s Miracle-Gro Company.
Robyn Louis, an 18-year-old UF psychology freshman, got a text from a friend during class asking if someone could grab her a plant at the drop because she was home sick.
Louis said she rushed over after class to get plants.
“Plants are underrated,” she said. “Most people don’t want to take care of them, but it gives me a sense of responsibility.”
Kaitlin Salley has named all her plants but she hadn’t thought of one for her coleus plant yet.
“It’s something to take care of, kind of like having a pet,” Salley, a 22-year-old UF classical studies senior said. “They make me happy.”
David Clark, a UF environmental horticulture professor, grew the plants used in Friday’s plant drop and answered questions about them.
What were the breeds?
Twenty-seven breeds of coleus plants were given away, Clark said. Here are some of their names:
Redhead (named after Clark’s wife)
Salsa Verde and Salsa Roja
What colors were they?
The plants came in six different colors and combinations. Clark said the main colors were like fruit Lifesavers, including:
How long do the plants take to grow?
Clark said the plants given away on Friday took around four weeks to grow.
Where were the plants grown?
The plants were grown in greenhouses off of Museum Road. Coleus plants grown at UF are shipped worldwide, including to the European Union, South Africa, Japan and China. The plans can be found in Lowe’s Home Improvement stores, Home Depot and Walmart, Clark said.
Why were coleus plants given away?
UF has a serious coleus breeding program, Clark said. Coleus plants are intentionally put under harsh conditions, like in full sun on silver reflective paper and in poor quality soil in the shade, so that only the strongest plants survive. After withstanding these trials, UF’s coleus plants can grow anywhere.
Mia Sewall, an 18-year-old UF communication sciences and disorders freshman, helps unload plants from two delivery trucks for the UF College Plant Initiative's Plant Drop Friday morning. One thousand plants were given away to students in Turlington Plaza.