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."
Woodlark Nurseries managing director Colin Edwards 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."
The Stars for Europe campaign is running again in 2017, with Edwards, Greg Hill and the BPOA advising on UK promotion, with 15-20 garden centres set to be involved.
Meanwhile, UK growers of finished plants are optimistic ahead of the new season, expecting about 3m UK grown plants to be sold, as exchange rates help them be more competitive in the market.