UF/IFAS Okeechobee County Extension Service

458 Highway 98 North

Okeechobee, FL 34972-2578

Phone: (863) 763-6469

E- mail: dfculbert@ifas.ufl.edu

December 3, 2003

Feature Article - for release the week of December 7, 2003

Dan Culbert - Extension Horticulture Agent

Perfect Poinsettias

Ok - the tree is up, the Holiday shopping is well underway, but the house still looks bare. What to do? Consider purchasing the perfect Poinsettia as a gift for those on your list, and be sure to include one for your own home as well. And since December 12 is National Poinsettia Day, this is a great week to shop for this beautiful plant.

Poinsettias are a modern day symbol of the Christmas holidays. Today’s Poinsettia looks nothing like the ones that Joel Poinsett brought back in 1828 from Mexico. It is now one of the most important horticultural crops in the US. Today’s "Christmas Rose" comes in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, forms, and price ranges. And, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Bargain-basement priced plants often lack quality and strength to last through the holiday season. Expect to pay a higher price for quality poinsettias.

Here is what to look for:

Poinsettia Care

Be sure to have the plant wrapped before you take it outside to your car. Plants exposed to rapid temperature changes drop their leaves, especially in cold windy weather. Handle the plants carefully in transit - it is very easy to break stems and leaves if care is not used.

Poinsettias need bright light to keep them looking good, but it doesn’t have to be direct sunlight. Avoid dark locations - Poinsettias stay freshest in a cool room. If kept too hot, the leaves may suddenly drop. Night temperatures of 60-65oF and day temperatures of 70-75 oF are ideal. Water the plant when the top of the soil feels dry, and don’t let it sit in water constantly.

Consumer Preferences

Last year, UF Horticulturalists Jim Barrett and Rick Schoellhorn teamed up with Purdue researcher Alan Hammer to determine what consumers like to see in Poinsettias. They asked visitors who attended the annual field day which varieties looked best, and shared this information with growers. If this sounds like fun to you, this coming Thursday is the 2003 Poinsettia field day in Gainesville - call if you want to go and need directions and times.

Florida consumers in 2002 had a definite preference toward novelty varieties - those with different colors, shapes and sizes. The pink and red speckled variety Monet Twilight was the highest rated, while others preferred Sonora White Glitter, a "Jingle Bells type, with red petals flecked with white specks.

For purple lovers, Plum Pudding and Cortez Burgundy were well received varieties. Lighting is important: in the greenhouse the Burgundy looks best, but Plum Pudding shows better under interior lighting. When a traditional red cultivar is desired, the varieties Chianti, Prestige, Red Velvet and Freedom were popular. A popular new color form looks like peppermint: the poinsettia variety Christmas Candy was the clear favorite with ‘Da Vinci’ a second choice.

Who and where you shop may relate to your preferences: florist shops customers liked the varieties Christmas Candy and Marblestar. Women also preferred those two varieties, while males liked White Christmas and Christmas Cookie.

I have placed computer links to several other Poinsettia references on our county Extension webpage (below), http://okeechobee.ifas.ufl.edu, including pictures of the varieties mentioned in this column. If you need additional information on poinsettias, call or stop by our office at 458 Hwy 98 North. Our phone number is 863-763-6469, and you can email us at okeechobee@ifas.ufl.edu.

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Trade names, where used, are given for the purpose of providing specific information. They do not constitute an endorsement or guarantee of products named, nor does it imply criticism of products not named. The Florida Cooperative Extension Service - Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin. Florida Cooperative Extension Service / IFAS /University of Florida.

2002 Poinsettia Preferences

from

Barrett, Jim, Schoellhorn, Rick and Hammer, Allen. "Which Poinsettias do Consumers Prefer?" Greenhouse Product News   Vol: 12 Num: 4. April 2002.

Monet Twilight

Sonora White Glitter

Plum Pudding

Cortez Burgundy

Chianti

Prestige

Red Velvet

Red Freedom

DaVinci

MarbleStar

Christmas Candy

Christmas Cookie

White Christmas

REFERENCES

Barrett, Jim, Schoellhorn, Rick and Hammer, Allen. "Which Poinsettias do Consumers Prefer?" Greenhouse Product News Vol: 12 Num: 4. April 2002. http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/floriculture/gpn/Consumer_pref.pdf .

Benson, D. Michael et.al. Poinsettia: The Christmas Flower APSnet Feature story, 12/01. Good cultural information, including photos of pests and problems. http://www.apsnet.org/online/feature/xmasflower/

Black, Robert J. & Rick K. Schoellhorn. Poinsettias For Florida, Indoors and Outdoors. UF/IFAS Extension Service Bulletin Jan. 2002. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MG352

Ecke Ranch website. Poinsettia Consumer Page [includes information on The Do's and Don'ts of Poinsettia Care, the Poinsettia Is Not Poisonous, the History of the Poinsettia, and the Legend of the Poinsettia. 2003. http://www.ecke.com/new1/poin_consumer.asp

Schmidt, James C. Caring for a Poinsettia {University of Illinois Extension Service Horticulture Fact Sheet]. http://www.nres.uiuc.edu/outreach/pubs/hfs/Caring_for_a_Poinsettia.pdf

Wolford, Ron. The Poinsettia Pages. University of Illinois Extension [contains sections on: History & Legends | Poinsettia Facts | Selecting Poinsettias | Caring for Poinsettias | Reflowering | Poinsettia Links | Frequently Asked Questions] http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/poinsettia/

Commercial Poinsettia grower information, based on current research at UF (including photos of cultivars and thier growth over the fall season) can be found at the following website: http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/floriculture/height2003/index.htm [Previous years trials can also be seen - change the date!]