392 CHILLING TEMPERATURE AND DURATION AFFECT FLOWERING AND BUD ABORTION OF `PRIZE' AZALEAS

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  • 1 Environmental Horticulture Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611

Dormant-budded `Prize' azaleas (Rhododendron sp.) were held at 2C, 7C, 13C, or 18C for 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 weeks then forced in walk-in growth chambers (29C day/24C night). Holding at 2C delayed flowering by 5-7 days over 7C and 13C. Plants held at 2C, 7C, or 13C for at least 4 weeks had approximately 50% buds showing color at marketability (8 open flowers). Plants held at 18C never exceeded 35% buds showing color at marketability. Increase in buds showing color was not apparent for plants were held at 7C, 13C, or 18C for more than 6 weeks; however, holding at 2C resulted in increasing percentages of buds showing color for holding periods longer than 6 weeks. Plants chilled at 13C and 18C showed significant increases in bud abortion after 8 or 10 weeks of cooling with most plants never reaching marketability (8 open flowers). These plants also had an increased proliferation of bypass shoots during cooling and forcing over other treatments.

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