The Quintessential Winter Plants: From Christmas Trees to Poinsettia

Dec 4, 2015

On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with DNR District Forester Mark Vitosh about the trees of the season. Vitosh describes the labor put into the growing of these trees as well as the interesting weather that has come this winter.

"Iced tea and a Christmas tree. What do you know?" Vitosh chuckles.

Also joining the conversation is Chris Currey, assistant professor of horticulture at Iowa State University. Currey talks about one of the most iconic winter flowers: the poinsettia. He discusses the history of the flower, the labor and science of breeding, and why they are associated with the holidays.

"It's that naturally short day and that long uninterrupted night that causes flowering," Currey says. "So just like the Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus, they get these names because in nature, down in southern Mexico and Guatemala, that would be their native time for flowering. And so, they were developing these flowers and red branches around Christmas, and so we just adopted that and brought it up north."

Later in the hour, Richard Jauron, ISU Extension horticulturist, joins the conversation to answer questions from listeners.