Linda Benedict, Kuehny, Jeff S. | 12/7/2007 2:07:11 AM
Pointy and pretty, no flower quite has the petal power of poinsettias at the holidays. And the selection would be far fewer in Louisiana were it not for the LSU AgCenter.
Although AgCenter horticulturists do not develop new varieties of poinsettias, they evaluate the varieties that come on the market and test them for their suitability to grow here.
“The poinsettia market has become one of either large, wholesale growers that market to the big box stores or smaller growers who market to the local nurseries, other smaller retail outlets, or organizations such as nonprofit organizations,” said Jeff Kuehny, director of the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden.
Although poinsettias now come in many different colors, patterns and shapes, the traditional red continues to be the most popular color, Kuehny said.
Watch a short video on picking the perfect poinsettias.
Read “Poinsettia Selection and Care.”
The poinsettia's beautiful leaves are not petals. They are called bracts, Kuehny said.
Points to consider when purchasing poinsettias include the size and number of the colored bracts. They should be large and extend over the lower green leaves.
“The number and size of bracts usually dictate plant price,” said Allen Owings, AgCenter horticulturist. “A premium-quality poinsettia usually has at least six bracts and should have more.”
Purchasers also should inspect the lower green leaves on poinsettias. Leaves should have good appearance and extend over the rim of the pot. Drooping leaves may indicate problems.
“You also should check for insects, primarily white flies, underneath the lower leaves,” Owings said. “The most important observation that can be made before purchasing a poinsettia is inspection of the green flower parts – called cyathia – in the center of the bracts. These flower parts indicate display life.”
"Another plant that is becoming popular for Christmas is the cyclamen, which has red, white and pink flowers with deep green leaves," Kuehny said.
Listen to tips from horticulturist Dan Gill about how to take care of holiday plants, including the pointsettia.
The LSU AgCenter is one of 10 institutions of higher education in the Louisiana State University System. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, it provides educational services in every parish and conducts research that contributes to the economic development of the state. The LSU AgCenter does not grant degrees nor benefit from tuition increases. The LSU AgCenter plays an integral role in supporting agricultural industries, protecting the environment, and improving the quality of life through its 4-H youth, family and community programs.