'Tis the season… for poinsettia trials

December 05, 2008
Written by Vineland Research and Innovation Centre
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This year's open house attracted growers from throughout southwestern Ontario.
Dec. 5, 2008, Vineland, Ont. — How many different varieties of poinsettias can you name? According to the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, there are at least 110 different poinsettia varieties to choose from.      
“The Vineland Research and Innovation Centre is the site of these international poinsettia trials,” said Dr. Jim Brandle, CEO, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. “It’s very much a preview of what consumers will see next year. Growers come out now to view the poinsettia trials in order to determine which ones they’ll offer for sale next year.”
Four breeders were represented: Paul Ecke Ranch, Selecta First Class, Dummen and Syngenta (Fischer). All support poinsettia trials at various university locations, but focus on three trial sites in the U.S., those being the University of Florida, North Carolina State University, and Purdue University in Indiana, and two in Canada. Westcan Greenhouses hosts trials in British Columbia, while the eastern trials are held at Vineland under the direction of Wayne Brown, greenhouse floriculture specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. 
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 Wayne Brown

NEW VARIETIES IN SPOTLIGHT    
“The trials are carried out on behalf of four poinsettia breeders to understand the performance of the myriad of varieties under very different climate conditions. California is very different from Ontario in November, for example,” said Brown. “There are 20 to 25 new varieties in the trial this year, including Orange Spice, Ice Punch, Merry Christmas and Premium Picasso Punch.” 
Brown offers some tips to keep poinsettias looking healthy all season: 
1. Poinsettias should be placed away from cold drafts and away from hot air registers or radiators. Do not place poinsettias directly in front of the fireplace; the side of the hearth, away from the direct blast of heat, is fine. The blasting hot air dries out the leaves and bracts, as well as makes the plant burn energy faster than normal, resulting in premature aging.      
2. Water plants sparingly. They belong to the Euphorbia family, well known for storing water in their leaves, stems and/or roots; therefore, water moderately only once or twice a week.      
3. Plants will survive the longest if placed in a cool, bright location.      
4. Don’t forget, it is always possible to purchase another poinsettia next holiday season! This way, we are keeping our local greenhouse industry vibrant.      

FUN FACTS
• The Aztecs grew this woody shrub in their villages because of the showy bracts – the leaf-like plant part – that develop around the true flowers.  
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Pest management at the Vineland trials was handled completely by biological controls.
• Poinsettias are named after Joel Poinsett, a U.S. ambassador who brought the plants back to the Philadelphia Conservatory because he was so impressed by them.     
• They are also known by names like "Christmas Star" and "Mexican Flameleaf."      

VINELAND RESEARCH AND INNOVATION CENTRE
The Centre is an independent, not-for-profit corporation established to create a world-class centre for horticultural science and innovation. Vineland will have a broad range of lasting benefits for Ontario, the Niagara Peninsula, and Canada. Research outcomes will be aligned with industry needs and will support a healthy and economically vibrant Ontario.      

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