Friday, November 20, 2015

Poinsettias on sale at Cuyamaca College

Ornamental horticulture students and poinsettias
Santa has taken up residence in the mall, Christmas decorations are going up in local neighborhoods, and holiday marketing is in full swing. Which means just one thing: It’s time for the annual poinsettia sale at Cuyamaca College’s Ornamental Horticulture program.

Once again this holiday season, the Ornamental Horticulture program is the community source for poinsettias. This year, the nursery at Cuyamaca College is offering two varieties: the Ecke Early Freedom Red and the Ecke Christmas Feelings Merlot.

All proceeds benefit the Cuyamaca College Ornamental Horticulture program and help it purchase lab supplies and gardening tools.

“We have a great program thanks to the support of industry, gardening clubs and the community, and the poinsettia sale is just one manifestation of that excellence,” said Donald Schultz, the Ornamental Horticulture’s program coordinator.

The annual poinsettia sale is a project involving about 30 students in courses that include plant propagation and the fundamentals of ornamental horticulture. Five hundred poinsettias were ordered in the spring and delivered as fledgling, half-inch plants in early summer. Students spent the next several months fertilizing and watering the plants, pinching the tops twice to help them grow more full-bodied.

"It has taken a lot of time and a lot of effort from a lot of people, but it is so worth it,” said Stephanie Land, a Cuyamaca College student who works as the nursery’s manager. “It’s an excellent way for students in the program to grow something from the early stage, take care of the plant, nurture it, develop a price point, market the product and then sell it. It’s a pretty comprehensive process, but we’re all learning a lot from it.”
“Poinsettias invoke that holiday spirit and that holiday feeling,” Land said. “They just warm your soul.”

Poinsettias will remain on sale while supplies last. Plants in 6-inch pots sell for $6.99 each, or two for $12; Larger plants in a jumbo pot sell for $22.99; and a Poinsettia Bowl, decorated with alyssum, lamium and more, sells for $19.99.
Cuyamaca College’s Ornamental Horticulture nursery is at the college at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in Rancho San Diego. The nursery is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. (It will be closed for the Thanksgiving weekend.) The nursery is located at Building M, near the bus turnaround at the end of Cuyamaca College Drive West.

For the uninitiated, here are a few poinsettia fun facts:
  •  The red parts of the poinsettia are modified leaves called bracts, not flowers. The flowers are small and yellow and usually bloom in December.
  • More than 100 varieties of poinsettias are available. In addition to the traditional red, poinsettias also come in white, pink, burgundy, marbled and speckled.
  • Joel Roberts Poinsett introduced the poinsettia plant to the United States from Mexico. Poinsett was a botanist, physician and the first United States Ambassador to Mexico.
  • In Mexico, the poinsettia is a perennial shrub that will grow 10 to 15 feet tall.
  • December 12th is Poinsettia Day, which marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett in 1851.

Land says poinsettias should be watered when the soil feels dry and do well while growing in room temperature. They also favor sunnier, south facing windows, but avoid placing the leaves against a cold window pane.