ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – While the lights and sculptures are the stars of the River of Lights, the ABQ Botanic Garden’s horticulture team also works hard to make sure the plants flow with the holiday display. The horticulture team works year-round to maintain the 52-acre Botanic Garden.

For the River of Lights event, hundreds of plants are brought in from a local florist. “Things like dogwood branches, curly willow, dried lotus pods… we really try to create a lot of winter interest,” said Maria Thomas, Curator of Plants.

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Also, about 1,000 poinsettias are grown in the greenhouse behind the zoo. Officials say it’s not easy to keep the finicky plant alive. “They have pretty specific temperature requirements, fertilizer requirements, light requirements. So we kind of just try and check all of those boxes,” said Emily Rees, a BioPark horticulturist.

Gas heaters are also suspended from the ceiling with a wet wall in the back of the house for cooling. Then, once the Christmas plants are fully grown and full of color, they are transported in vans to any indoor facility that visitors can enter. The River of Lights is from November 26 to December 30. Tickets can be found here.