A brand new poinsettia hybrid

Sharon Cohoon

An astounding 80 percent of the poinsettias sold around the world are grown in the greenhouses of Paul Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, California. The late Paul Ecke Jr., the firm's second president, is the man responsible for turning this Mexican native flower into a global gift plant. Most recently, Ecke was the champion of a new selection called 'Strawberries and Cream' (shown here). Ecke, who passed away last year, loved this hybrid and was sure consumers would too, despite misgivings from some of his staff.

People either loved or hated this plant, says Laurie Scullin, the firm's director of marketing. The hybrid's strong coloring ― dark pink outer bracts with a sharply contrasting cream interior ― provoked the equally strong reactions.

Customer reaction has validated Ecke's faith. 'Strawberries and Cream' sold well in trial markets last year, so it will be widely available in nurseries and floral sections of supermarkets this year. Ecke would have been pleased, says Scullin, "but he wouldn't have been surprised."

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