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End Of A Poinsettia Era

Scott Bauer
Wikimedia Commons

For almost 100 years, Ecke Ranch has led the horticulture industry in the breeding and distribution of poinsettias. But the company was sold this year. KUNC’s Gardener Tom Throgmorton reflects on how that's likely to affect the poinsettia industry.

This year’s Holiday poinsettia will be the last of a long tradition. The largest breeder and grower of poinsettias, the Ecke Ranch, were bought by the Agribio Group.

In the early 1900’s Albert Ecke immigrated to California. He, his son and grandson began breeding the wild poinsettia. They thought it was the ideal Holiday plant. It had large, colorful bracts throughout the month of December. 

Over a century and three generations the Ecke’s became synonymous with poinsettias. They have developed a variety of colors. They have bred different sizes. They grew almost every cutting for every poinsettia plant. And they created a market making poinsettias as popular as Holiday trees.

Agribio Group is a Netherlands based horticultural company. They own a number of breeding and growing operations. Buying the Ecke Ranch Company broadens their inventory.

It also ensures the future of poinsettia breeding. The research portion of Agribio includes eighty propagators. Ecke Ranch only had five plant breeders. This larger company will give Ecke’s poinsettias a global distribution. 

Some of the new varieties Ecke Ranch produced for the 2012 season:

  •  Premier Red it’s an early blooming, compact poinsettia.
  • Tikal Red is a large plant. It has dark red bracts that have a slight curve in their leaf.
  • Jubilee Pink has medium pink bracts with dark pink veins. It is a compact plant.
  • Early Monet is an improvement on an old variety. It has peach colored bracts with pink spots. It is a compact plant. 

We probably won’t notice a difference in our poinsettias next year. But another traditional United States company has transitioned into a multi-national company.

Tom has been offering garden advice on KUNC for almost two decades. During that time he has been the wholesale sales manager at Ft. Collins Nursery, Inc. Since January of 2005 he has been the owner and operator of Throgmorton Plant Management, LLC., a landscape installation and maintenance company as well as a horticultural consulting firm. He lives in northern Ft. Collins with his wife and two kids.
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