This time of year, tabletops, lobbies, front doors, fountains, and offices are adorned with the rich red velvety leaves of the unofficial Christmas flower: the poinsettia.
A shrub, not a flower, this tiding of good cheer hits its peak colorfulness in late November through mid-December in the United States thanks to some greenhouse breeders who know how to keep the tropical plant happy. One of them is Brian Jackson, a professor of horticultural science at NC State. His particular focus is soil research and how to get the plants what they need while making their soil more sustainable and more economical for breeders across the United States.
In this episode of Farms, Food and You, the host chats with Jackson and discovers that this horticultural harbinger of the holiday season has a surprising history and a colorful future ahead of it. He’ll also set the record straight about a prevailing poinsettia myth that drives him and other breeders bonkers.