Poinsettias are the most popular potted plant in the country and their arrival on store shelves signals the beginning of the holiday season. Every year more than 70 million poinsettias are sold within a six-week period at a nationwide value of more than 250-million dollars. The majority of the poinsettias sold are red, but growers are always looking for the next niche market for these holiday plants so new varieties are constantly being developed. Since 1996, researchers at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food Agricultural Sciences have grown these experimental plants as part of their annual Poinsettia Variety Trial. Lead by horticultural scientist Dr. Jim Barrett, the six month long trial grows more than six thousand plants and a hundred different varieties each year. Researchers gather critical information on growth time, plant size, and consumer preferences and report the results to growers at yearly Field Day. The goal is to help poinsettia growers and producers determine which varieties should go to store shelves.
To learn more about how the Poinsettia Variety Trial is conducted and what it takes to grow six thousand plants in six months, click the play botton on the following video window.