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Christopher Catanzaro*, Haval Kamake, and Sarabjit Bhatti

Twenty-one commercially introduced or trial cultivars of poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch) supplied by Dummen USA or Ecke were grown at the TSU main campus farm during Autumn 2003. Ten plants of each cultivar were potted in 6-inch standard containers and grown from rooted cuttings to finished plants according to industry cultural practices in a glass greenhouse. Plant heights were recorded weekly. The date on which anthers began to shed pollen (flowering date) was recorded to calculate response time after initiation of short days. Also recorded on the flowering date were final plant height and two measurements of plant width and inflorescence width. Most cultivars finished within two weeks of the predicted response time of 7.5-9 weeks. However, flowers of `Infinity Red', `Merlot', `Mirage', and `Premium Marble' shed pollen especially late. Flower structures aborted on `Prestige', `Elegance Hot Pink' and `Premium Hot Pink'. Most cultivars were relatively compact at finish date. `Twister', `EuroGlory', and `Coco 2000 White' were particularly small, with average heights of 28-30 cm and average widths of 17 cm or less. `Spotlight Dark Red' was tallest (37cm) and widest (41cm), and also had the widest inflorescences (26 cm). Quality issues observed on some cultivars included low inflorescence number, excessive bract overlap, bract burn, bract reversion, high height to width ratio, and low plant vigor. Cultivars with overall high quality performance included `Premium Red', `Infinity Red', `Spotlight Dark Red', `Coco 2000 Red', and `Freedom', which all scored highly in the consumer preference survey conducted at the end of the study.

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Christopher Catanzaro*, Haval Kamake, and Sarabjit Bhatti

A poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch) open house was held at the TSU main campus farm in Dec. 2003, during which a high quality finished plant of each of 21 cultivars was on display (supplied by Dummen USA and Ecke in August as rooted cuttings). The cultivars varied in inflorescence color and pattern, plant size and plant growth habit. Members of the campus community, the Tennessee Flower Growers Association, extension personnel, and the general public attended. Most attendees completed a written survey (n = 173), in which they rated how strongly they liked or disliked each cultivar. Cultivars were rated on a Likert-type scale (1 = strongly dislike, 7 = strongly like). Highly rated cultivars (mean >6) included `Premium Red', `Infinity Red', `Spotlight Dark Red', `Coco 2000 Red', `Merlot', `Prestige', `Freedom', and `Premium Hot Pink'. Less preferred (mean <4.4) were `Premium Marble', `Mirage', and `Limelight'. Although no cultivars were strongly disliked, the large, traditional red cultivars were preferred. Attendees also provided information on demographics and plant purchases. The typical attendee was a 40- to 59-year-old female with a college education and 2 to 3 people in the household with a total income of $25,000-50,000. Eighty percent bought poinsettias in 2002, with an average of 3.7 plants purchased. Eighty percent of plants purchased were red, and color was the most important selection feature. Results suggest that although most consumers prefer traditional red cultivars, a niche market exists for plants with novel inflorescence colors and unique bract and leaf coloration patterns and shapes.