Poinsettia breeders in Germany and Holland are improving plant quality and durability by looking at ways in which to strengthen these seasonal hybrid heroes to better withstand transportation. Transportation is one of the main causes of the poinsettia plant’s failure to thrive.
Poinsettia plants can be vulnerable during transportation so a select group of breeders are looking at ways to improve their durability by testing the plants in simulated transport conditions, such as reducing light levels and creating fluctuations of temperature. Plants are boxed in darkness for several days, and kept at lower temperatures. The packaging is then removed and the plant is placed on a shelf in a standard light level. The performance of the plants is rated according to their leaf-yellowing and the best plants are then shortlisted. The growers then meet in January to review results and the strongest performing new varieties are selected for the coming season.
Guido von Tubeuf, Poinsettia breeder at selecta one in Stuttgart, Germany, said: “Our Poinsettia varieties, particularly those of the ‘Christmas Feelings’ family are repeatedly awarded for excellent quality and shelf life with the LTO Quality Award in the Netherlands. We also undertake regular in-house durability and stress tests under transport situations. Sustainable production alongside good shelf-life will lead to satisfied producers and customers.”
In order to lengthen shelf-life, breeders have produced many thousands of hybrid seedlings, bred to withstand the temperature fluctuations that poinsettias are subjected to once they are brought into the home, ensuring that the plant remains attractive and healthy through to the end of the Christmas holidays.
Colin Edwards, managing director of Woodlark Nurseries, Surrey, said: “The modern varieties that are bred in Northern European countries today are excellent and really do give the consumer a fantastic festive plant for the Christmas holidays. This ongoing breeding programme ensures the continuing strength of this beautiful plant.”