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UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center Plant Diagnostic Clinic Saves Grower's $350,000 Poinsettia Crop

Nifa Author
Lori Tyler Gula, Senior Public Affairs Specialist

The poinsettia was introduced to this country in the late 1820s by Joel Poinsett, the first American ambassador to Mexico, who became acquainted with the Flor de Nochebuena, or Christmas Eve flower, as it was known locally.

After shipping some samples home, it became known as the poinsettia in the United States. It’s path to holiday season superstardom began in the early 1900s. By 2017, poinsettias accounted for 18 percent of sales of flowering potted plants – to the tune of $216 million a year, according to the USDA Census of Agriculture.

In 2019, a commercial grower, faced with the prospect of losing a large poinsettia crop came to the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center thinking the plants had Xanthomonas, an incurable bacterial disease. Thanks to the UF/IFAS MREC diagnostic plant clinic, they were able to determine that the plants did not have the deadly disease, saving 28,600 poinsettias, $345,000 in plant sales, and 11 employees from losing their jobs.

The UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center was developed with NIFA support for research and Extension activities to advance the central Florida horticulture industry. It offers a weekly plant clinic run by UF/IFAS Extension faculty and state specialists to assist both commercial growers and citizens in the Orlando-area.

On National Poinsettia Day, we thank the specialists at plant diagnostic clinics like the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center that work to keep the holidays bright for our nation’s commercial poinsettia growers.

Image of poinsettias courtesy of AdobeStock

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