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MSU previews poinsettias at Poplarville open house

Although it's only mid-November, poinsettias will be arriving very soon at garden centers, and some may have already arrived for the holiday and Christmas season.
by Dr. Gary R. Bachman 

In many people's minds, the traditional poinsettia color is red. And let's face it, a red poinsettia is beautiful. My favorite continues to be the classic red.

Today, customers can purchase white, pink, maroon, speckled, and marbled poinsettias, as well as some unexpected and unusual colors that are not artificial.

To get a little plant physiology straight, the colors we enjoy are not the flowers but rather the modified leaf structures called bracts. The flowers themselves are small, pea-shaped buds clustered in the center. These are called cyathia.

For the past few years, the Coastal Horticulture Research group at the Mississippi State University South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville has conducted trials for growing poinsettias in the Deep South. They have also conducted consumer preference trials.

This data is valuable for the greenhouse growers in Mississippi as they plan their growth strategies.

"In 2021, we invited the gardening public to our first Poinsettia Open House to view the trials and experience the width and breadth of poinsettia colors in person. Last year, we grew 38 different selections in containers ranging from 4-inch to 12-inch diameter, which are the sizes frequently used for poinsettias," says Dr. Gary Bachman with MSU Extension Service.

Visitors were asked to complete a survey with questions ranging from their favorite color to how much they would be willing to pay for the plant. Guess what? Red came out on top.

"This year, we're again holding a Poinsettia Open House at Poplarville on Dec. 1, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Poplarville station. I was in the trial greenhouse last week, and I can tell you that the poinsettias will be stunning. The trials this year include 54 separate varieties."

For more information:
Mississippi State University  

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