The recently concluded National Poinsettia Variety Trials were very successful this year according to organizers. Nearly 90 varieties were tested at Purdue and North Carolina State Universities, the University of Florida and Homewood Nursery in Raleigh, N.C.
The National Poinsettia Variety Trials have been highly successful for several years now. The trials are coordinated among the four sites along with the breeder companies. Each trial site evaluates the new varieties under different production situations, and each location has a Field Day for the industry to view and discuss the varieties. All of the sites also have a consumer day to collect survey information on what consumers prefer.
At the University of Florida, 108 industry professionals attended the Field Day, and more than 800 visitors attended on the consumer day. Florida’s consumer day sales event continues to grow in popularity, with some shoppers coming in from as much as 120 miles away. Some attendees return each year looking for the newest and most novel varieties. Red varieties make up 50 to 60 percent of sales, but the novelties create the most excitement. This year Florida horticulture students sold all 2,500 of the plants they grew, raising approximately $36,000.
In Gainesville, the strongest reds in the survey were the well-known varieties ‘Orion’ and ‘Prestige Red’. For colors, ‘White Christmas’, ‘Polly’s Pink’, ‘Marco Polo’ and ‘Christmas Angel Marbella’ were the top selections by significant margins in their respective color class.
For the third consecutive year, the top novelty variety was ‘Ice Punch’. A new novelty, ‘Ruby Frost’, created a lot of interest this year and came in second to ‘Ice Punch’. Other leading novelties include ‘Cortez Burgundy’, Ecke 39-02B (a "jingle bell" type), ‘Sonora White Glitter’, ‘Winter Rose Early Red’ and ‘Ice Crystal’.
Here are the varieties that the breeders had on display this year.
You can read more about the 2009 National Poinsettia Trials in the February and March issues of GPN. Check out GPN’s Poinsettia Zone  for past articles on the National Poinsettia Trials.