Poinsettia trials PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Garden Editor   
Thursday, 05 December 2013 12:29
Claudio Pasian, of Ohio State University, studies a plant during the poinsettia trials at Bostdorff Greenhouse. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
The Bostdorffs are doing their part to perpetuate the beauty and variety of the poinsettia plant, which over the years has become an iconic symbol and the unofficial plant of Christmas.
On Monday, growers and breeders and other horticulture experts participated in the Ohio State Poinsettia trials held at Bostdorff Greenhouse in Bowling Green. At the trials, 55 different varieties were examined and evaluated.
“We have the largest collection of poinsettias in one greenhouse in the entire United States,” boasts Dick Bostdorff.
The display at the North Dixie Highway business was coordinated by Claudio Pasian, associate professor in the department of horticulture and crop science at Ohio State University.
In the trials the visual impact is obviously important; however, those trained eyes on Monday were looking at many other aspects of the plant such as shape, height, attention required, hardiness, ease of growing and, as Bostdorff notes, how well will it sell.
Pasian said the newest trend in the plant is the return to the basics, especially in the colors with various shades of the traditional red, pink and what is called white.
He notes most “whites” are not truly white, they are generally pale yellow. Poinsettias also come in burgundy, marbled and speckled, to name a few.
He said most growers are looking for poinsettias that are shorter without using chemicals. They want them to be more proportional to the pots without using growth inhibitors.
Also, there is a trend away from the variegated coloring and more toward the variety and shape of the bracts in the cultivars. There are also various leaf shapes such as the oak leaves, the traditional spatula leaf and the carousel shape.
For those not familiar, bracts are the brightly colored leaves which distinguish one poinsettia from the next. The actual flowers of a poinsettia are located at the center of the bracts. The flowers are small and often resemble little beads. Between the actual green leafs and the colored bracts is what is referred to as a transitional leaf. A transitional leaf, unlike other leaves, does not change color over time. It, as the name implies, has some of the characteristics of the bract as well as the regular leaves.
The look of a transitional leaf varies greatly and is rarely the same as another from the same type of poinsettia.
The color of the Jubilee Jingle Bells variety lives up to its name.
Bostdorff, in his opinion, says some of these distinct leaves add to the beauty of the plant while others, he says, do nothing for its look.
There are four trials annually in Ohio; however, this is the only one held in a retail setting.
Pasian notes the latest trend in the plant is also lengthening its longevity.
With increased longevity, the growers can start them earlier in the greenhouse and the consumer can keep them looking good longer with some varieties easily lasting until Easter.
Bostdorff concurs and said they have many varieties of what are called “day neutral” plants which can be sustained nearly year-round.
Pasian warns that the biggest destruction of poinsettias comes from over-watering.  
“People always want to give it water and that is not good,” he said.
He notes the actual plant, including its pot and planting soil, are very light.
If you pick it up and there is some weight to it, that is the water. Wait until it is very light when lifting it and then give it a little water — “not much,” he says.
Now that the Ohio State trials are over, shoppers can evaluate the varieties themselves and many of them are available for sale.
The greenhouse is filled with poinsettias to provide holiday decorations for your home, business or for a gift. He estimates a minimum of 30 varieties available in stock.
Many of those have come from previous trials which the business has propagated for its sales.
The various cultivars are named and thus recognized. He noted the “Ice Punch” is a favorite from a trial two years ago. “Peppermint Candy” and “Ruby Frost” have also been featured in previous trials.
None of the poinsettias at Bostdorff’s are painted. While he acknowledges there is a market for those types of poinsettias, he says it adds to the cost and his preference is for the natural look.
“God paints ours,” he said.
He noted one of his favorites is the “Mars Pink” which features four shades of pink in one bract.
Mary Ann Bostdorff helps select which varieties the greenhouse will add to its collection for sale in subsequent years. She says she looks at the shape and the fullness of the bracts with a personal preference for those that turn upward a bit creating a cup-like appearance.
“There are so many that I do like,” she noted mentioning the “Christmas Eve Red” variety. She also raved about the “Jubilee Jingle Bells,” a red bract featuring pink splotches.
According to her, this is a revitalized specimen which has been adapted by a different breeder. The previous variety lost its quality quickly and thus its favor with growers.
These trials can help decide which varieties will be in stores and garden centers next year and beyond.
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 12:33

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