Photo courtesy of David Torrence

Greenhouse Management: What has it been like putting together a poinsettia trial in 2020?

Amy Morris: It’s been a little different and a little challenging. I am really surprised at the amount of people that are actually coming. Many people have said ‘thank you’ for spreading it out over a couple of days. Instead of the one normal day, we spread it over three different days. My goal was to keep it under 50 people a day. We have 2 acres of room in there and that seems like a lot, but with social distancing, I felt that it was really important to keep it as spaced out as possible ... We also aren’t letting people walk through the greenhouses. We used to have the talks in the dock area and visitors could basically do whatever they wanted. This year, everything is 100% kept in the garden area. We do not want anyone to come in and make unnecessary contact with our employees.

GM: With the COVID element, how did you weigh trying to do this event in person and get the benefit of having people review the plants in person while still managing health concerns?

AM: Our industry — we all miss each other. Networking is so critical. And we are going to do the best we can to have a poinsettia trial with a virtual aspect. Breeders will be filming themselves and we’ll be putting them online so if anyone can’t attend, we will at least have a filmed portion that people can go through and people can listen about each variety. The other thing that’s different is that I proposed that each breeder has its own house. Ball has its own house, Syngenta has its own house, Dummen and so on. That way, a group can walk through one breeder, see all of those varieties and then go to the next breeder.

GM: What does the slate of poinsettia offerings look like this year? 

AM: Red is always going to be the most dominant. But, I have to admit, there is a lot of drive for color selection this year. Oranges are popping up. Some of our breeders are really doing a fantastic job on these new oranges and I’m really excited for people to see that. There’s a lot of nice new whites in the pipeline ... Another thing I’ve noticed is a few burgundy [options] coming down that look much stronger and have no delaying on them. That’s all really exciting. Breeders are trying to breed for that nicer pink that’s not salmon, but it’s more of a true pink.