Best of the Best: 2001 Poinsettia Trials By Jim Barrett and Allen Hammer

The following are the cultivars that we judged to be the best of the 2001 trials. In most cases, they are newer cultivars that offer a new characteristic, an improvement over current cultivars or fill a void in availabilities. A few are older cultivars that continue to be outstanding.Between the two of us, we saw 11 different trials this year and visitednumerous production operations in various parts of the country. To some extent,these selections are based on how the cultivars performed in a variety of trialsas well as how the cultivar performed in commercial settings.

Red Cultivars

'Eternity Red'. Eternity has attractive redbracts that are held up above the foliage, giving a very distinctive bractappearance. It is a little vigorous and should make a good cultivar for largerformats. The public liked it in the University of Florida consumer trials. Itwas new this year, and we need to learn more about it under varied productionconditions. — Dummen.

'Prestige Red'. Prestige has the strongestbranch structure of the cultivars currently available. Consumers like theappearance and rated it higher than 'Freedom Red' in the Universityof Florida trials. It finishes 7-14 days after Freedom; the cooler thetemperature, the further apart they finish. Prestige can be used in a widerange of formats and in all geographical regions. Bract size is much smallerthan Freedom but has a brighter color. — Ecke.

'Red Elf'. Timing is slightly earlier than'Orion'. It is less vigorous than Orion and should be easier to produce at close spacing. It is a cultivar that is probably best in 4- to 5-inch pots and baskets in cool climates. — Fischer.

'V-07B'. This cultivar offers a distinctive newlook for red plants and will be best utilized as an upscale plant. It has nicecontrast between the large yellow centers and the narrow, bright red bracts. Insurveys, it had strong consumer appeal. The leaves and bracts are smaller thanaverage, and the bracts are more open in the center than most other cultivars.It is slightly more vigorous than Freedom but does not stretch at the end.V-07B is not being introduced currently; it will be evaluated another year.Ñ Ecke.

Pink Cultivars

'Early Joy Pink'. This cultivar is importantbecause it adds a good pink color in a dark-green leaf cultivar for timing withOrion Red and Freedom Red. Bract color is very good among the available pinkcultivars. — Oglevee.

'Success Light Pink'. This should get the awardfor the most underutilized cultivar. It is a very nice, soft "true"pink for high-end markets. The pink bracts look better under artificial lightthan they do under natural sunlight. — Ecke.

White Cultivars

'White Christmas'. This plant often produces thebest white color of the white cultivars. Timing is late midseason. Bracts are smaller than average and should not be finished cool. Bracts are also whiter when finished under lower light levels (2,000 ft candles). ÑSelecta.

Jingle Bell Cultivars

'Jingle Bells 4.0'. This is an early-floweringcultivar that is a distinct ç improvement over 'Freedom JingleBells' in terms of appearance and reduced amount of reversion to solidpink or red bracts. It is slightly less vigorous than Freedom Red. ÑEcke.

'Sonora White Glitter'. With clear, white spotson red bracts, this has a very distinctive appearance among the jingle belltypes and had very strong appeal with consumers. Because of the nature of thiscultivar, it frequently sports to a marble, but most consumers do not complainabout the sporting. — Fischer.

Marble Cultivars

'Santa Claus Marble'. This cultivar adds to animportant form. It is more vigorous than 'Marblestar', with large,showy bracts. Timing is midseason. — Selecta.

Peppermint Cultivars

'Christmas Candy'. Candy is a very attractivepeppermint type that adds a needed color option for the late market. Bracts aresmooth, held up and smaller than average. This is a very vigorous cultivar. Itwas the highest-rated candy type in the University of Florida consumerevaluations. — Selecta.

'Da Vinci'. This is a nice peppermint type forearly flowering. It should be easy to produce in most climates and is animprovement over other early peppermint cultivars. It has great bract colorwith contrasting dark green leaves and much less vigor than the otherpeppermint types. (Not pictured.) — Fischer.

'Monet Twilight'. This cultivar continues to bea big favorite with consumers even with the introduction of newer noveltytypes. It is very vigorous, and if stressed, leaf yellowing is a problem. Bractcolor development is much quicker than the older 'Monet' cultivar.Ñ Ecke.

Novelty Red Cultivars

'Freedom Fireworks'. Fireworks adds diversity tothe early red cultivars. It has the leaf and bract color of Freedom Red;however, the bracts are long and narrow, which creates a different appearance.It is slightly less vigorous than Freedom and is probably best-suited for markets where something different is desired. — Ecke.

'32-2000'. 32-2000 is a novelty red that scoredhigher than Winter Rose Dark Red in some trials. It has very dark red bractsand very dark green leaves. The bracts and leaves are deeply lobed, but theshape is not exactly like the oak leaf ç

types. The cyathia also add to the unique appearance: theyare large with prominent, bright orange edges and do not develop pollen. Thisis a low-vigor cultivar that will make a 6-inch plant if given extra crop time.The best plants in several trials were ones not treated with growth regulators.(Not pictured.) — Ecke.

Novelty Cultivars

'Cortez Burgundy'. This may be the mostimportant new cultivar for 2002, as the public really likes the burgundy color.It can be finished with other midseason cultivars and will develop nice color.The bract color looks best when displayed with natural light. Bract color doesfade as the plant ages. Do not grow stock of this cultivar unless you arefamiliar with growing stock of 'Cortez Red' and can producecuttings with good branching. — Fischer.

'Plum Pudding'. There was very strong demand forthis cultivar at retail this year. It is not easy to grow and must be finishedunder conditions different from other cultivars. Best conditions seem to befinishing at 65¡ F or higher night temperature to get bract expansion andat light levels below 2,000 ft. candles for best color. We continue to work onbetter understanding of how to best grow this cultivar. It has excellentpostharvest performance. — Ecke.

'Strawberries 'N Cream'. This is a verydifferent poinsettia cultivar. It has strawberry pink transition bracts withthe true bracts developing as a cream color with strawberry color running alongthe mid-vein. The true bracts do not expand very much and look"distorted." The cultivar has very low vigor and will best be usedas small 5- to 6-inch containers, pans, short tubs and baskets but will stillrequire extra growing time. This should be used as a novelty for mid-level andhigh-end markets. — Ecke.

'Winter Rose, Dark Red, Jingle Bells and DeepPink'. The Winter Rose type is becoming established as a distinctivepoinsettia form that still has great appeal to many consumers. The Jingle Bellsand Deep Pink cultivars add nice color options to this family. The vigor ofDeep Pink is similar to Dark Red, while Jingle Bells is less vigorous. Thesecultivars have the very best postharvest performance of the availablepoinsettia cultivars. — Ecke.

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Jim Barrett and Allen Hammer

James Barrett is professor of floriculture at University of Florida and GPN's consulting editor; he can be reached at [email protected] Allen Hammer is professor of floriculture at Purdue University; he can be reached at [email protected]

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