Stem elongation of commercially produced flowering poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima L.) is often sigmoid. However, sigmoid mathematical functions traditionally used for representing plant growth fail to adequately describe poinsettia stem elongation when a shoot has a long vegetative growth period. A model was developed that explicitly described three phases of poinsettia stem elongation: 1) the initial lag phase, where stem length increases approximately exponentially; 2) a period when elongation is linear; and 3) a plateau phase, where elongation rate declines to zero and stem length reaches an asymptotic maximum length. The timing of the plateau phase was linked to flower initiation date. Fit of the resulting model to data from single stem `Freedom' poinsettia grown with different periods between transplant and flower initiation had an R2 of 0.99. Model parameters had clear biological meaning, and the poinsettia model has horticultural application for simulation and graphical tracking of crop height.
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