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  • Author or Editor: Emma C. Lookabaugh x
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Emma C. Lookabaugh, Brian Whipker, and Barbara B. Shew

Pythium aphanidermatum is the predominant species causing pythium root rot of commercially grown poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) in North Carolina. Pythium root rot is primarily managed with strict sanitation practices and preventative fungicide applications. To determine if host resistance could play a role in the integrated management of pythium root rot, information on the susceptibility of commercial poinsettia cultivars is needed. Commercially available poinsettia cultivars were inoculated with P. aphanidermatum 3 weeks after transplant and evaluated for resistance to pythium root rot 2 months later. Thirty-four cultivars were evaluated for resistance in 2014 and 58 cultivars were evaluated in 2015, for a total of 62 cultivars evaluated. Twenty-nine cultivars were evaluated in both years. Most cultivars were susceptible to pythium root rot and none were completely resistant. However, several cultivars demonstrated partial resistance to pythium root rot. Interspecific hybrid cultivars, including Luv U Pink, had a higher level of partial resistance when compared with conventional cultivars. Partial resistance varied across bract color, response time, and plant vigor groupings. Overall, 6 of 13 partially resistant cultivars identified in 2015 had red bracts. These results indicate that growers should be able to choose among several red bract cultivars that have higher-level partial resistance to pythium root rot than others.