Greenhouse Canada

Features Crops Flowers
Ontario trials offer pointers on points

Poinsettias remain one of the largest potted crops in Canada, and this program is showcasing some of the best new varieties to growers and buyers.

August 31, 2017  By Melhem Sawaya

Consumers like large poinsettias.

Nothing in the whole production cycle is as important as the knowledge about the product that you are going to grow. Knowing the parameters and the growing habit of a cultivar makes the difference in achieving a successful crop or a total failure or something in between.

Three main factors are required to produce a profitable, successful, stress-free …OK, less stress crop.

One. Know the requirement for growing this crop and this includes:

  • Growing habit – vigorous, medium or short.
  • Flowering response time.
  • Growing temperatures.
  • Light intensity requirement.
  • Response to growth regulators if it is needed.
  • Ability to branch.
  • And most importantly … whether or not it is going to be available.

All of this knowledge is equal to 15 per cent of the total factors in growing a great crop. The others are:

Two. Know how to use this knowledge. This comes through experience or inquiring how. This would represent another 15 per cent.

Three. And the most important factor in producing a successful crop is doing things on time. This factor represents 70 per cent of what’s required to grow and sell a profitable crop.

As for the “know-how” factor, many growers find the information before growing a new crop quite easily from various sources. But many times the information is second-hand or on-line, and this can be interpreted differently by different people. That is when plant trials and face-to-face discussions are extremely important.

When touring trials, you see the cultivars of all competitors in one place with the same treatment. You have the opportunity to meet with representatives of the breeders and compare notes with other growers.

I have been passionate about learning since my first year working in the greenhouse industry. I have never toured trials or attended a conference or grower meeting and not learned something new to help me to do better job the next time I grow that crop or treatment. At the same time, I have always been totally open to share any information I have with other growers. It’s truly a win-win situation.

I would never initially apply what I learn to a whole crop, but instead will try it on a small section. Only when I know how this information or procedure will work for us will I expand the trial. And then if the results from the expanded trial are also favourable, then I would apply it throughout the crop.

I am sharing all of this because we are bringing back the Ontario poinsettia trials which will include:

  • Cultivar trial to compare growing habits, height and vigour.
  • Different treatments – Bonzi, B-nine and Cycocel.
  • Different temperatures and flower initiation and maturity.

Also available will be the technical representatives from each of the four companies participating in these trials.

A short speaker program will cover propagation, growing on, finishing, pest control, the varieties, and a panel discussion to answer your questions. This is in addition to viewing over 150 cultivars of poinsettia.

An open house will take place on Nov. 22 from 10 to 3 (lunch provided) at Jeffery’s Greenhouses, Plant 2, located at 2411 Fourth Avenue, Jordan, Ontario L0R 1S0.

The goal of these trials is the same: to help growers choose cultivars with which they’ll be most successful. As well, it will allow buyers to see first-hand the cultivars that will work well for their customers. This means growers and buyers will be invited to decide on 2018 cultivars.

This is the same format we have used with annuals at the Sawaya Garden Trials, now in its 18th year. It has grown to include almost every breeder or broker. It is the largest outdoor trial in the world. This year 3750 cultivars were trialled and evaluated, helping ensure the best varieties make it to market.

We have the responsibility to produce cultivars that the consumer will be successful with and that will lead to a larger market for all growers to share.

For more information, contact me at 519-427-8440 or

Just remember – nobody can take away what you know, but it is a joy to share it.

Melhem Sawaya of Focus Greenhouse Management is a consultant and research coordinator to the horticultural industry –

Print this page


Stories continue below