Every year during the Christmas season there is an explosion of poinsettias around campus— in offices, luncheons, parties on campus, for sale in the Plant Shop, and decorating the stage for the big Christmas concert. Have you ever wondered where they come from? The poinsettia plants that are in the grocery stores are brought in as a full grown plant ready for sale, but the ones that are on our campus are grown right here.
Students that are interested in large growing operations have the opportunity to be involved with the Horticulture department’s annual poinsettia sales. This year, Sam Marinho, Johnny Church, and Devon Mayberry headed up this year’s poinsettia project as part of a special problems class. In July, the plugs arrived from nurseries in New Jersey and Utah and the 2-3” babies were potted up. From July to September the tender plants were closely monitored in the greenhouse, being hand watered and individually inspected for pests and diseases. Starting mid-September the plants need to be subjected to complete darkness for a minimum of 14 hours each day in order to induce the beautiful coloring that poinsettias are known for. The lack of light is what signals the plant to transform it’s green leaves to the seasonal red. Because the lighting system in our greenhouses is all controlled from a master controller, simply turning the lights off is not an option. So we are left to drape and drag dark plastic over the the benches that the poinsettias are on in order to give the plants the darkness they need. It’s not easy, your arms will be tired and you’ll be breathing hard by the time you get them all covered, but it works.
Of the experience, Sam Marinho said, “It was an excellent learning opportunity, but extremely stressful and time-consuming.” However, she expressed her gratitude in being able to work on the project and getting experience with a real-life, large scale growing operation. Johnny Church commented that, "After growing these poinsettias, I'm less worried about my upcoming winter production classes. I'm told [by Bro. Toll] that if you can grow points, you can grow anything."
Our aim for the Department of Horticulture at Brigham Young University-Idaho is to nurture understanding of both the art and science of Horticulture. Students learn experimentally in the classroom, laboratory, greenhouse, and ten acre Thomas E. Ricks demonstration garden as they pursue an Associates or Bachelors Degree. Using the medium of plants, students develop habits of hard work, enlightened minds, and healthy living that assist in gainful employment opportunitues.