By Dana Edwards
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida’s Environmental Horticulture Graduate Student Association (EHGSA) will host its 19th annual plant sale from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 7 and 8. The sale will be held at the UF/IFAS horticulture greenhouses, 2475 Memorial Road, Gainesville. This is the fifth year the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) student organization will feature coleus plants.
Each of the 14 coleus varieties that will be available for purchase have been developed and grown at UF. The club members are responsible for planting and growing nearly 3,400 coleus plants that were donated as cuttings to the EHGSA. There will also be donated plants for sale from local horticulturalists.
“The EHGSA Plant Sale is an excellent way for the UF campus and surrounding communities to welcome the beginning of spring with beautiful plants for the apartment to home garden,” said Hector Perez, UF/IFAS associate professor and EHGSA adviser. “The plant sale is also a way for the environmental horticulture department to share newly developed cultivars of popular plants with our neighbors.”
New coleus varieties available at the event include La Rambla (a multi-colored green and black leaf with a pink center) and Ruby Road (a burgundy and green leaf with a pink center). The Gator Glory variety with orange leaves and yellow highlights is considered to be the most popular coleus for sale.
“What our department is most known for and what people get most excited for is Gator Glory,” said Nicholas Genna, EHGSA president. “It is a variety that was developed here in our department, and this is the only place where you can buy it.”
According to UF/IFAS environmental horticulture professor Dave Clark, more than 50 million UF-developed coleus plants have been sold and have generated nearly $1.5 million in royalties as of 2018. Most of the earnings go back into the lab to fund new ventures.
Due to their color and tolerance of both shade and sun, coleus plants are versatile for many landscapes or containers. Coleus are annuals and do not survive hard frost, however, they are easily propagated from cuttings.
Last year, the club earned more than $18,000 in sales to go toward the students’ regional and international travel and research expenses. Last summer, many of the club members traveled to Peru to visit different horticultural operations and farms. Other destinations have included restoration sites, botanical gardens and other universities.
“My experience with EHGSA has provided numerous professional connections and friendships that I would not have otherwise made,” Genna said. “Growing coleus for the organization has even further broadened my education by teaching me about the fundamentals of greenhouse production. At the end of the day, we love growing these plants and we love selling them to our customers.”
By: Dana Edwards, 352-392-1963, firstname.lastname@example.org
The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) administers the degree programs of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). The mission of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is to deliver unsurpassed educational programs that prepare students to address the world’s critical challenges related to agriculture, food systems, human wellbeing, natural resources and sustainable communities. The college has received more total (national and regional combined) USDA teaching awards than any other institution. Visit the CALS website at cals.ufl.edu, and follow CALS on social media platforms at @ufcals.