Princettias, which were introduced in Japan, Europe and Australia in 2009 by Japanese breeder Suntory Flowers Ltd., came to North America in 2012. While they are in the same genus (Euphorbia) as the standard poinsettia, they are a different hybrid, bred through a joint venture Suntory has in Australia.
Princettias are quite floriferous. “On a 6-inch pot there could be a dozen smaller flowers in a nice mound,” says Delilah Onofrey, Princettia brand manager for Suntory. “You can even see six or eight flowers on a plant in a 4.5-inch pot. It’s not a fast crop. It takes 20 weeks for a 6-inch pot, which is not unusual for a premium pot crop. Growers need to give them time to develop properly,”
However, this investment of time offers great potential payback. Suntory has positioned Princettia as a premium, high-value crop, and it has worked well globally. For example, Onofrey says the average wholesale price for a poinsettia in Japan is $4.66. A Princettia averages $9.55. A large Princettia may retail for as much as $130.
“The genetics are worthy of being treated as something special instead of just getting lost in the sea of poinsettias,” Onofrey says. “The key is to present it as a high-end or premium gift item in the right setting. Globally, we’ve found breast cancer awareness promotions in October to be a perfect fit with the shades of pink for the cause. In Japan and other markets, large retailers scoffed at the idea of Princettia being more than another pink poinsettia. The successful strategy was to present Princettia to high-end florists, department stores and other non-traditional outlets for plants. Six-thousand retailers — no major discount chains — sold Princettia at a premium in Japan last fall.”
“Some of the more creative ways Princettias have been marketed include cross-merchandising the plants with cancer-prevention books and a promotion with in Japan with a special edition Hello Kitty doll sold with a Princettia plant. In Australia, Oasis Horticulture partnered with the National Breast Cancer Foundation and contributed $115,000 to the cause through Princettia plant sales. Onofrey says the pink color fits well with other floral holidays such as Easter, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Armstrong Garden Center, a major garden center chain in California, offered Princettias in patio combinations with other plants and foliage accents, which were well-received.
“We’ve worked with Ecke Ranch to develop precise production schedules for six different times of the year,” Onofrey says. “Bedding plant growers who produce poinsettias will find it more natural to start the crop sooner in May for an October finish than to use black cloth and more heat in the winter for a spring finish. Princettias are more heat tolerant [than traditional poinsettias], but that also means they require more heat in the winter. The growth habit is naturally compact and the plants offer excellent branching, producing many natural breaks for flowers without pinching. Less PGR is required. Princettias can also be used in landscapes in mild climates in shadier areas, similar to the way cyclamen is used in the fall on the West Coast.”
Onofrey says a white variety, ‘Princettia Max White’ is coming soon. “It’s more vigorous than the more compact pink Princettias, but it is distinctive with a high flower count and truly white flowers, which are hard to produce in euphorbias,” she says.