BOWLING GREEN - With Christmas approaching, the interior of Bostdorff Greenhouse Acres has become a sea of poinsettias.
Thousands of the holiday plants, representing 75 varieties, are arranged in neat rows where they have been lovingly tended for months.
They come in a profusion of colors: red, orange, maroon, white, and pink, to name a few.
But the most interesting of the plants are on the north side of the greenhouse.
This area has been set aside for the annual Poinsettia Cultivars Trial, the growing of experimental holiday flowers run by Ohio State University and the Ohio Florists' Association.
Bostdorff is the only retail greenhouse in the state to receive the experimental cultivars from Ohio's four licensed poinsettia growers. Mary Ann and Dick Bostdorff, the greenhouse owners, received the cuttings in the last week of July and first week of August.
Tomorrow, the Wood County Park District will hold its annual holiday tour of Bostdorff.
"We've never been disappointed," Chris Smalley, the park district's stewardship coordinator, said. "It's a great chance to get out in the greenhouse and see some beautiful plants and beautiful colors. This time of year, there's a very drab landscape outside and you don't get to see a lot of plants with vivid colors. It's quite eye-catching."
The cultivar trial is a good way to see how the experimental plants, which are developed under a variety of laboratory condi-tions, fare in the real world, according to Steve Carver, OFA's manager of technical education.
"This gives growers a sense of how the new varieties respond to new growing conditions," he explained.
Claudio Pasian, a poinsettia expert at OSU's horticulture and crop science department, compares the trials to the car industry.
"Every year the manufacturers come out with new models. These companies produce new varieties of plants. They try to come out with new shapes and sizes," explained Mr. Pasian, who is an associate professor and floriculture extension specialist.
Some of the new plants are destined for commercial failure. Mrs. Bostdorff pointed to a runty looking one with an unattractive rusty color.
"This one isn't going to make it," she said.
Mrs. Bostdorff said the experimental cuttings, in 42 varieties, are two to four inches long and rooted when she gets them. After the trial, she can sell them.
On Monday, representatives from the poinsettia industry will visit the greenhouse, examine the new varieties, and compare them, Mr. Bostdorff said.
"We get people from all over Ohio and Michigan. There will always be at least two varieties that they latch onto," he explained.
The poinsettia is named after Joel Robert Poinsett, an amateur botanist and U.S. ambassador to Mexico, who introduced the plant to Americans from that country, where it grows wild. This was in 1825.
"In the U.S., it's a typical Christmas plant, one shot only. But in other parts of the world it's grown almost year round," Mr. Pasian said.