Programming Flowering of the Phalaenopsis Orchid

in HortScience
Author: Yin-Tung Wang1
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  • 1 Dept. of Horticultural Sciences, Texas Agricultural Research and Extension Center, 2415 East Highway 83, Weslaco, TX 78596

Blooming Phalaenopsis orchids have become a popular pot plant in recent years. Plants start producing spikes after experiencing cool air in early fall, bloom in early spring, and become limited in supply after April when market demand is strong. Deferring spiking and flowering by maintaining the greenhouse air constantly above 28°C is cost prohibitive. Previous research has discovered that plants must be given light while being exposed to cool air to induce spiking. In Fall 1994, 2-year old Phalaenopsis TAM Butterfly plants were exposed to repeated cycles of 1 day in darkness and another day in light (1D/1L), 4D/3L, 7D/7L, or 0D/7L (continuous lighted control) between 15 Sept. and 16 Dec. Each plant was removed from the treatment once it had started spiking. The control plants bloomed on 20 Jan. 1995, whereas the 4D/3L plants did not reach anthesis until April 17, nearly three months later. Flowering of the 1D/1L and 7D/7L plants was also deferred until early April. The treatments had no adverse effect on flower count or size. In 1995, 3-year old plants were exposed to 0D/7L (control), 2D/5L, 3D/4L, 4D/3L, or 5D/2L from 15 Sept. to 22 Jan. 1996. The control plants spiked on 17 Oct. and bloomed on 8 Feb. 1996 when spikes had just emerged from plants in the 5D/2L treatment. The 5D/2L plants are expected to bloom in late May or early June. The other treatments were not as effective as that in 1994 and resulted in blooming only 2–3 weeks after the untreated control. The results of this research will help producers to stagger or precisely program the time of flowering to meet the market demand.

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