Consumer Poinsettia Picks By Jim Barrett, Allen Hammer and John Dole

Find out if the poinsettias you are growing or plan to grow will be popular with consumers through this annual consumer preference report.

The National Poinsettia Variety Trials evaluate the newest varieties to provide growers with information on how to produce them and compare them with older standard varieties, which you can find in the February 2004 issue of GPN. These trials are held at the University of Florida, Purdue University and North Carolina State University. Each year we take advantage of the trials to show the varieties to consumers to give us information on what they think about the varieties.

University of Florida. At the University of Florida, the consumer open house is held in the greenhouse where the plants are grown on a Thursday after the grower field day. That day, the undergraduate students sell the plants they grew, and many of the consumers come planning to purchase plants. There were approximately 450 attendees and 334 useable surveys for the first four questions shown in figures one through four on page 24. For these four questions, individual plants, without names, were placed on a separate bench for each question.

North Carolina State University. The North Carolina State survey is conducted at a Consumer Open House on a Sunday after the grower day. The plants were moved to a display area in the JC Raulston Arboretum and shown with names. There were 200 attendees and 157 useable surveys.

The consumers were asked to select their three favorite cultivars within each group; red, pink, white and novelties. Results as shown on page 26 are the top five or 10 choices in each group.

Purdue University. For the Purdue consumer survey, plants are moved to White River Gardens in Indianapolis, Ind., and shown in a conservatory there. There were more than 800 participants in the survey. For the first two survey questions, plants were shown without names. Appreciation is expressed to the staff of White River Gardens for their support and cooperation in conducting this survey.

What does it mean

There are some differences in the results from the three locations. This is often caused by how well a particular variety performs in the different climates. Among American consumers the general rule that bigger is better is true for poinsettia consumers, so if a variety is larger relative to other plants at one location, it may get more votes there. While there are some particular differences, there are strong trends in the results from the three locations.

Red poinsettias are by far the biggest selling color and should not be overlooked in the excitement of all the new interesting novelties being introduced. ‘Freedom Red’ has been the major variety for many years, but it is common for it to rank in the middle or lower half of these surveys. Varieties ranking near the top of reds are those that generally have a brighter red color, smoother bracts that are held horizontal, and/or have green leaves showing through the red bracts. This would be compared to the large, bluish-red Freedom bracts that lay down and completely cover the leaves. It is interesting that two of the highest rated varieties in the Florida comparison of reds are ‘Success’, an old variety, and the new ‘Cortez Electric Fire’; both have orange red bracts. ‘Merlot’ is often rated high and has a deep wine-red color.

Notice in the top overall selections or in the Florida comparisons of colors and styles that the white and pink varieties do not rank near the top. ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Enduring Pink’ are newer varieties that are recognized as having very good color and are often the highest rated varieties within Á their color class. This shows that consumers have more interest in the novelties.

In the novelty group, there are several varieties that are often among the consumers’ favorites, including ‘Winter Rose Dark Red’, ‘Monet Twilight’, ‘Cortez Burgundy’, ‘Sonora White Glitter’ and ‘Carousel Red’. ‘Strawberries and Cream’, ‘Plum Pudding’ and ‘Holly Point’ are varieties that will rank high where they are grown to their potential. Two new varieties that received strong interest were Ecke 54-99 R&W and Oglevee PX 12004. These will be interesting to watch when they are releases next year.

Some of these favorite novelties point out a dilemma for many growers. Monet Twilight has long been a favorite, but its use is decreasing because it is so vigorous and sensitive to nutritional problems. Cortez Burgundy and Sonora White Glitter tend to flower late in the season, and there have been problems with them sporting to other colors. Notice that in the Florida study 82 percent of the consumers indicated they liked jingle bell-type plants, but growers often have difficulty with them sporting. These are example of varieties that, for growers who can do them successfully, they should continue them to take advantage of the consumer demand.

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Jim Barrett, Allen Hammer and John Dole

Jim Barrett is professor of floriculture at University of Florida and GPN’s consulting editor; John Dole is associate professor of floriculture at North Carolina State University; and Allen Hammer is professor of floriculture at Purdue University. For more information about the National Poinsettia Trials, go to

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