The North American Poinsettia Trials reached a significant milestone this year — it has been evaluating poinsettias, in cooperation with the poinsettia breeder companies, for 20 years since it was started in 1993. The first trials include Allan Hammer at Purdue University, Jim Barrett at University of Florida, Roy Larson at North Carolina State University, and Joe Stoffregen at Homewood Nursery and Garden Center. Wayne Brown, at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre Vineland Station, Ontario, replaced Purdue University as the northern trial site in 2011 and John Dole replaced Roy Larsen as the NCSU coordinator in 2002. Jim and Joe have continued to be a part of the trials since they were first started.
The goal of the Poinsettia Trials has always been to evaluate the new cultivars in a northern, central and southern location. Few cultivars perform well in all three locations with differences most notably in vigor and flowering time. Keep in mind also that the definition of early, mid and late season flowering varies with the location.
In Ontario early season refers to early to mid November, mid season to late November to early December, and late season would be the rest of December. For the North Carolina and Florida locations, early season is also early to mid-November, but mid season would be late November and late season would be any time in December.
2012 was also a banner year for introductions in the North American Poinsettia Trials. These cultivars should be available in 2013 — however, not all new cultivars are listed in the breeder company catalogs. Contact your supplier if you see one you want to try, but it is not listed yet. An additional 13 numbered selections were tested, but most will not be released this year as named cultivars.
‘Bravo Bright Red’ (Dümmen). True to the name, Bravo Bright Red has light, bright red bracts with dark red young bracts. The medium to large (Ontario) sized bracts were tightly clustered around the cyathia and held flat. The plants are medium vigor with dark green leaves. Plants reach first color quickly and flowered early season. This cultivar has the overall general appearance and growth habit of ‘Premium Red’, except it has a brighter color and slightly more vigor. As a starting point for planning purposes, use the Premium schedule.
‘Christmas Glory’ (Selecta/Ball). Christmas Glory has rosy red bracts and darker red young bracts surrounding 12 to 15 large showy cyathia held tight within the center. The large bracts cover the compact plants, which are best suited for 6-inch or smaller containers. However, vigor was higher in Ontario. Plants flowered mid season.
‘Christmas Joy’ (Selecta/Ball). The light-red, medium to large size, elongated bracts were held flat above the small narrow dark-green leaves. Plants were of medium vigor with very upright stems and flowered early to midseason. Plants should do well in a variety of container sizes.
‘Neva’ (Syngenta). These are nice looking plants with medium to dark-red bracts held flat over the dark green leaves. There were four to six large cyathia. The sturdy plants with strong upright laterals flowered mid to late season and were medium vigor. Plants should do well in a variety of container sizes.
‘Prima Red’ (Dümmen). Prima has smooth red bracts with a slight orange cast held flat. This cultivar has a distinctive plant shape and appearance. It is highly branched with a large number of leaves and bracts that are slightly smaller than average. Plants are not wide and flat on top, but are more rounded. This emerging style of plant may suffer less physical injury during shipping and handling compared to wider plants with large leaves/bracts and stiffer stems. Timing and vigor varied with the location. In Ontario and Florida, it finished midseason and was average vigor. In North Carolina, plants were larger and distinctly later flowering. This cultivar should work well in a variety of container sizes.
‘Sigma’ (Syngenta). The short and broad bracts were medium to dark red around the large centers. The bracts were held flat to upright over the dark green leaves. Plants flowered early to mid season. The plants are low to medium vigor, but should do well in a variety of container sizes.
‘Solar’ (Beekenkamp). ‘Solar’ produces a nice plant with medium-red bracts and dark-red young bracts that lay flat on the plant. Many of the bracts have large points, but not all are oak-leaf shaped, creating an open center with six to eight medium sized cyathia. The plants are medium vigor with exceptional branching and very upright stems and should do well in a variety of container sizes. Plants will finish after Dec. 1.
‘Premier Pink’ (Ecke Ranch). This pink fills out the Premier series well with medium pink bracts, and darker pink young bracts. Older bracts show some of the graying typical of dark leaf pinks, but no more than most. The centers were tight around the cyathia. Plants flowered very early season, a few days before ‘Premier Red’ at North Carolina State. As with other colors in the series, this compact cultivar would be best grown in small pots up to 6 ½ inches, for the latter provide one to two more weeks of long days. Southern growers should note that all of the Premier series finishes very early and there can be bract edge burn problems if finished plants are held too long in a warm greenhouse.
‘Glace’ (Dümmen). This cultivar was distinctive for having the brightest white bracts in the trials. However, the late flowering and small, broad bracts held flat may limit its appeal in central and northern locations. ‘Glace’ fared better in Florida with larger bracts than the other locations and good postharvest performance. Plants flowered late season in early December at NC State. The medium vigor plants with upright stems had light green foliage. Plants should work well for most container sizes.
‘Jubilee White’ (Ecke Ranch). This cultivar is important because, along with ‘Jubilee Jingle Bells’, it fills out the series with the major colors. Plants should work well in variety of container sizes and match the general appearance and growth habit of ‘Jubilee Red’, but are slightly more compact. The color of the large creamy white bracts is similar to other dark leaf white cultivars. Under the cooler conditions of Ontario, the color was creamy yellow. Plants flowered mid season, close to the same time as ‘Jubilee Red’.
‘Premium White 2012’ (Dümmen). This revised version of ‘Premium White’ has a bright creamy white color with little green veining found on some whites. Plants flowered early season, slightly later than ‘Premium Red’. As with other colors in the series, plants were low vigor and would be best grown in pots up to 6½ inches, for the latter provide one to two more weeks of long days.
‘Saturnus White Improved 2012’ (Beekenkamp). This much improved selection (Ontario) had slightly below average vigor with small dark green leaves. The creamy white to yellowish (under cool temperatures) short, broad bracts with six to nine showy cyathia in a tight center were displayed flat above the foliage.
‘Christmas Beauty Nostalgia’ (Selecta/Ball). If this poinsettia were a hydrangea, we would call the color antique pink. The primary bracts were pale pink with green edges that developed as the bracts matured. The younger bracts were dark pink. Plants are low vigor and upright with the uniform, round habit of ‘Christmas Beauty’. Flowering was midseason, similar to other colors in series. Foliage was small, medium green.
‘Early Twilight’ (Ecke Ranch). The rich, rosy pink bracts of this novelty are a darker version of the ‘Monet Early’. The pink flecks are so dense that the bracts appear almost solid rosy red from a distance. While the bract color and pattern of ‘Early Twilight’ are somewhat similar to the older and popular ‘Monet Twilight’, the two cultivars are not related and, except for the bracts, are distinctly different. The plant flowers early to mid season and has dark green foliage. This very compact cultivar would be best grown in small pots up to 6½ inches, and will require additional vegetative growth time. For planning purposes, a schedule similar to that of ‘Premium Red’ could be used.
‘Harlequin’ (Beekenkamp). ‘Harlequin’ has the curled under bracts typical of the classic Winter Rose style and fills in the Beekenkamp lineup with this still important novelty poinsettia. The numerous bright red bracts are tightly arranged around 12 to 15 large cyathia. The vigorous plants are upright and flowered late season at NC State, while it was early to mid season in Ontario. Plants should work well in variety of container sizes. In Florida, ‘Harlequin’ produced nice plants, but the leaves and bracts were less curled than those of ‘Winter Rose Dark Red’.
‘Jubilee Jingle Bells’ (Ecke Ranch). Another color to fill out the Jubilee series, Jingle Bells has dark pink spots on medium red bracts, with less contrast between red and pink spots. Plants flower early to mid-season and have dark green foliage. Plants should work well in a variety of container sizes and match the general appearance and growth habit of ‘Jubilee Red’, but are slightly more compact and flowered a few days before the red at NC State. In Ontario it flowered at the same time as the red. ‘Jubilee Jingle Bells’ flowers earlier than either ‘White Glitter’ or ‘Red Glitter’ and has the vigor and strength to make nice 8- and 10-inch container sizes.
‘Premier Jingle Bells’ (Ecke Ranch). Another color in the Premier series, Jingle Bells has bright red bracts with medium-pink spots, with relatively little contrast between the red and the pink spots. Plants flowered early season, a few days before ‘Premier Red’ at NC State. As with other colors in the series, this compact cultivar would be best grown in small pots up to 6½ inches, for the latter provide one to two more weeks of long days. For southern growers the bract edge burn comment made for ‘Premier Pink’ also applies to ‘Premier Jingle Bells’.
‘Sparkling Punch’ (Ecke Ranch). This pink version of ‘Ice Punch’ has pale-pink bracts with a striking blaze of white down the center. Plants are well matched to ‘Ice Punch’ in size, medium to high vigor, and flowering time, which is early season. In fact, the two cultivars make excellent combination pots when planted together. As with ‘Ice Punch’, the best contrast between the white and pink takes place just as the plants start to flower and the contrast improves with maturity. Our consumer evaluations indicate that this will be a good novelty variety, but the demand will not be as strong as for ‘Ice Punch’.
‘Viking Cinnamon’ (Dümmen). The large creamy-yellow pink bracts have rosy-pink spots and few splashes. At NC State, ‘Viking Cinnamon’ flowered mid-season, about a week earlier than ‘Viking Red’, while in Ontario it flowered at the same time as ‘Viking Red’. The two were similar in appearance. The short broad bracts were held flat above the dark-green leaves. The medium vigor plants should work well in a variety of container sizes and is about one week earlier than ‘Marco Polo’.
Which new introductions will you add to your poinsettia program this year?