New Releases For 2006 By John Dole, Allen Hammer and Jim Barrett

Seventeen new cultivars were in the National Poinsettia Trials for the first time in 2005 and should be available in 2006. The descriptions are based on how the cultivars performed in our trials. Five of these new cultivars performed so well they were selected for the Best Of The Trials list and are described in more detail in that list on page 28.

Red Cultivars

'AvantGarde Red' (DŸmmen USA). This is an unusual red cultivar with the growth and form characteristics of the novelty cultivar 'AvantGarde'. 'AvantGarde Red' will probably be considered a novelty red by most growers. The deeply serrated bright red bracts do add interest and give the cultivar a very Christmas holiday look. The cultivar is worth a try, particularly for those growing 'AvantGarde'.

'Christmas Carol' (Selecta First Class). The bright-red bracts on this early to midseason cultivar are accentuated by dark-green foliage, dark-red transition bracts and very large centers. Several other bright-red cultivars are available, but this one stood out. The bract presentation is flat with no green leaves visible through the bracts. The medium-vigor plants are extremely well branched and uniform.

'Enduring Red' (Ecke Ranch). When 'Enduring Pink' was released, it found a place as a low-vigor, early-flowering plant with bright-pink bracts that did not fade. The low-vigor growth of this series provided a finished plant with strong branches and no late stretch problems. The newly released colors in this series are well matched in terms of appearance, growth habit and finish timing. The Enduring series has a very upright bract display with somewhat elongated bracts, uniform breaking and dark-green foliage. 'Enduring Red' is medium red with darker red younger bracts. For 61?2-inch pots add one (in the South) to three (in the North) weeks of long days after the pinch to your normal schedule to ensure adequate height at flowering. This series will be easy to grow and certainly find a place in the poinsettia market.

'Freedom Early Red' (Ecke Ranch). With some of the first poinsettia shipments going out soon after Halloween, there is a market for early-flowering cultivars. 'Freedom Early Red' joins several of the earliest -flowering cultivars available: 'Early Orion', 'Early Joy Red' and 'Autumn Red'. It is interesting to note that while 'Freedom Early Red' flowered only a few days before 'Freedom Red' in our trials, it started coloring as much as 10 days earlier. Other early flowering cultivars also showed this trait. Because of the earlier initiation, it is important to plant this cultivar 1-2 weeks earlier than 'Freedom Red' to build adequate plant structure before initiation. The growth habit and appearance of 'Freedom Early Red' is similar to 'Freedom Red' and earliness is the important characteristic of this cultivar.

'Metro Red' (DŸmmen USA). This cultivar is significant because it is one of the few late-season red cultivars introduced recently; 'Metro Red' flowered December 3 at North Carolina State University (NCSU). The cultivar has smooth-edged, dark-red bracts with even darker young bracts. The bract presentation is flat to upright with multiple branches maturing uniformly. Foliage is dark green and plants are medium to low vigor.

'Red Dragon' (Fischer USA). This cultivar has the medium-green leaves and bract color of the familiar 'Peterstar Red', but it is more vigorous and upright. 'Red Dragon' stood out in the trials due to large, bright orange-red bracts among the many dark-red cultivars. The vigorous plants are very uniform with excellent breaking, and this cultivar is significant in that it can be grown for large displays. The rounded bracts are flat to upright in presentation.

'Silent Night Crimson Red' (Selecta First Class). Similar to 'Silent Night', this cultivar has slightly darker red bracts. The elongated bracts are dark red with darker red younger bracts. The presentation is flat to upright. The foliage is dark green. Plants are uniform and breaking is good.

1090 (Name to be announced) (Ecke Ranch). This early-flowering cultivar (similar to or just ahead of Freedom) has dark-red bracts with ç very dark-red young bracts. The important characteristics that distinguish 1090 from other early cultivars are good vigor, excellent branching and distinctively upright bracts on very strong branches. This variety should be useful for large plants in 61?2-inch or larger containers.

White Cultivars

'Enduring White' (Ecke Ranch). The comments for 'Enduring Red' apply to this cultivar as well, except it has creamy white bracts. It will be grown as part of the Enduring series of colors.

'Jester White' not pictured (Ecke Ranch). As with 'Jester Red' and 'Jester Marble', 'Jester White' has elongated bracts that are initially very upright but lay down as the plant matures in warmer production areas. The bracts are creamy white, and the inflorescence is rather stretched out. Flowering is midseason. Plants are medium to high vigor, and foliage is dark green. Branching is very uniform.

Pink Cultivars

'Mars Pink' (Fischer USA). This is the first cultivar released as a companion to 'Mars Red'. 'Mars Pink' is similar to 'Mars Red' in size but flowered about one week earlier in the NCSU trials. The bract color ranges from dark reddish-pink on the young bracts to pale pink with darker veins on the older bracts. The grayish cast common on the older bracts of many other pink cultivars is evident but not as pronounced. The pink color was brighter in the Purdue trials and is probably a reflection of the cooler finish temperatures. The somewhat rounded bracts have a smooth edge and a flat presentation. The foliage is dark green, and the plants are uniform and well branched. This cultivar will probably be most useful for growers producing 'Mars Red'.

Marble Cultivars

'Christmas Time Crazy Marble' (Selecta First Class). With the longest, but most accurate, name of any cultivar in the trials, 'Christmas Time Crazy Marble' has large, contorted, white and pink, droopy bracts. This cultivar is more vigorous and has larger bracts than the similar appearing 'Strawberries 'n Cream'; it is more compact than the also similar appearing 'AvantGarde', which often has an elongated, open inflorescence. The two-toned, dark-light green foliage is also contorted. Plants had good breaking but were not uniform within the crop. In direct comparisons, consumers in the Florida and Purdue trials preferred 'Strawberries 'n Cream' over Crazy Marble.

'Enduring Marble' (Ecke Ranch). See the comments for 'Enduring Red' above. 'Enduring Marble' has creamy white bracts with a pale pink blaze.

Novelty Cultivars

'Malibu Rose' (DŸmmen USA). This low-vigor, rose-colored cultivar does not fit the traditional red or pink cultivar market. It is a true novelty color. The transition bracts are lighter in color and have green margins that detracted from the bright rose-colored center bracts. Some may consider 'Malibu Rose' a dark pink cultivar when displayed with red cultivars. Foliage is dark green, and growth is compact.

'Prestige Maroon' (Ecke Ranch). This is probably the most notable cultivar in the trials this year. 'Prestige Red' has become popular because of its uniformity in growth, excellent breaking and strong shoots. 'Prestige Maroon' is a darker brick-red version (think 'Chianti' or 'Merlot'), with the younger bracts even darker red. The color is darker in cooler climates and more pronounced under artificial light. In the bright sunlight of a greenhouse the color difference between 'Prestige Maroon' and other dark-red cultivars is not as apparent. The medium to vigorous plants have dark green foliage. Relative to 'Prestige Red', the height and flowering time varied among the trial sites. Where will this cultivar fit in? It will probably compete with 'Cortez Burgundy' if finished cool and displayed under artificial light. In addition, 'Prestige Maroon' does not fade in the postharvest environment as 'Cortez Burgundy' does. 'Prestige Maroon' will require additional trialing, consumer opinions and production research to find its place in the dark red market.

'Valentine' (Selecta First Class). 'Valentine' is the latest entry into the curly bract category. The bracts are a little curlier and more elongated than 'Winter Rose Dark Red' but with a similar color. The heads were about the same size as 'Winter Rose Dark Red' and larger than 'Twister'. 'Valentine' flowers after 'Winter Rose Early Red' but before 'Winter Rose Dark Red' or 'Twister'. Plants are uniform with excellent breaking. Foliage is dark green. Plants in the trials this year had weaker stems than either Winter Rose or 'Twister' but this may be related more to cutting quality for a first year introduction than a characteristic of the cultivar.

John Dole, Allen Hammer and Jim Barrett

John Dole is professor of floriculture at North Carolina State University. Allen Hammer is professor of floriculture at Purdue University. Jim Barrett is professor of floriculture at University of Florida. They can be reached by E-mail at [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected],respectively.

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