Ongoing poinsettia sale ‘hands-on’ experience for students

Gerson Flores

Without missing a beat this holiday season, the department of horticulture and landscape architecture at Colorado State University is hosting its annual poinsettia sale, giving students and community members an opportunity to deck the halls with poinsettia plants.

This fall semester, a class of 20 students under the guidance of Joshua Craver, assistant professor within the department of horticulture and landscape architecture, reaped over 750 poinsettia plants that are being sold right now. 

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“This is the culmination of our fall practicum,” Craver said.

The poinsettia sale, taking place at the Horticulture Center at CSU, began Dec. 9 and will continue until Dec. 13. Customers can stop by to pick up poinsettias any time between 3-6 p.m. 

The sale provides an opportunity for customers to receive advice from professionals in case they want to maintain their poinsettia and try to make it flourish next year.

“Once you get a poinsettia, you treat it like a typical houseplant,” Craver said. 

Each plant is sold at $10, and customers can choose from a wide array of colorful plants, the most popular of which are red, pink, orange and white.

The purpose of this sale at its most basic level is so we can continue to have this be a sustainable program: so we can continue the program and continue to give students this experience.” -Joshua Craver, assistant professor, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture

Craver said the project is not a way to make money, but to continue funding more projects for students in a way that can be sustainable.

“The purpose of this sale, at its most basic level, is so we can continue to have this be a sustainable program: so we can continue the program and continue to give students this experience,” Craver said.

To keep the project running, it must be run successfully and this is something that has been a challenge for the department of horticulture and landscape architecture in the past. 

But, after years of having problems getting the plants to grow, the department finally cracked the solution to prevent stunting the growth of its poinsettias.

Over the last few months, the students have put thought and effort into making sure the plants would flourish.

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Sam Caplan, a junior horticulture major who is taking the class, said the students water, measure, cover, observe, take notes on and constantly do things to make the poinsettias grow as well as possible within the greenhouse. 

“We’ve been working for three months on these poinsettias,” Caplan said. “I’m treated as the professional grower of poinsettias in our class, and our professor is our adviser. It’s sort of giving us a taste of the real world.” 

I think hands-on experience is super important for this, because you’re running into problems that you’re going to run into as a grower in the future, so you will know how to handle these situations.” -Lael Mathis, senior horticulture major

It is the department’s mission to give students as much of a hands-on experience as they can get, Craver said, adding that the project is an example of how the department tries to give students the best opportunities possible to obtain practical experience growing plants in a greenhouse. 

“I think hands-on experience is super important for this because you’re running into problems that you’re going to run into as a grower in the future, so you will know how to handle these situations,” said Lael Mathis, senior horticulture major and student taking the class. 

While the students were helped by their professor, the class was mostly a student-led project that yielded excellent results, Craver said. 

“I want to make sure all the credit goes to the students,” Craver said. “They’ve been working really hard this semester to grow this crop. I’m also really proud of the crop they’ve grown.”

Craver said this project has been a success for everyone involved, including for the faculty and staff helping to make it a reality, for the customers and for the students getting to know how the process of growing plants works.

“Every college should have some sort of hands-on experience, and I’m glad that our college does,” Mathis said.

It’s a project that couldn’t have happened without everyone involved, Craver said.

“I think it’s really cool and rewarding seeing people come in and buying the things that we worked so hard on: watching people walk out with the product that we developed,” Caplan said. “We’re proud of the sale, proud of our center and really proud of our students. They get all the credit.”

Gerson Flores Rojas can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @GersonFloresRo1.