After months of planning, the cuttings arrived in July and another year in the North American Poinsettia Trials was started. The Trials are a cooperative effort with Jim Barrett and Paul Fisher at the University of Florida and Wayne Brown at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Ontario. Homewood Nursery and Garden Center, in north Raleigh also participates, bringing a commercial perspective to the Trials. This Trial program has been evaluating poinsettias, in cooperation with the poinsettia breeder companies, for 21 years since it was started in 1993.
This year we had 113 poinsettia cultivars from five suppliers to grow and compare, including 16 new cultivars and 19 experimental cultivars representing the latest in breeding efforts and future introductions. We had two main trials: One in which the cuttings were all planted at the same time and grown without plant growth regulators (pgr). In the other trial the planting date and pgr applications were varied to produce a managed crop that was as uniform in height as possible across all cultivars. We had a number of other smaller trials and experiments this year as well. We host two open houses to show all of the cultivars and research to growers and the general public.
One of the most distinctive new varieties, Princettia, is a hybrid between the traditional poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, with red bracts and a wild species, Euphorbia cornastra, with white bracts. The Princettias had brilliant white, pink and red bracts (see photo at left).