Flowering of Herbaceous Perennials under Various Night Interruption and Cyclic Lighting Treatments

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1325

Six long-day species of herbaceous perennials were grown under six night-interruption (NI) photoperiod treatments to determine their relative effectiveness at inducing flowering. Photoperiods were 9-hour natural days with NI provided by incandescent lamps during the middle of the dark period for the following durations: 0.5, 1, 2, or 4 hours; 6 minutes on, 54 minutes off for 4 hours (10% or 6/54 cyclic lighting); or 6 minutes on, 24 minutes off for 4 hours (20% or 6/24 cyclic lighting). For five species, the experiment was repeated with more mature plants; for the sixth, Rudbeckia fulgida Ait. `Goldsturm', following a cold treatment of 8 weeks at 5 °C. The species generally showed a quantitative flowering response to the NI duration until a saturation duration was reached; as the length of the uninterrupted night break increased, flowering percentage, uniformity, and number and plant height increased and time to flower decreased. Minimum saturation durations of NI were 1 hour for Coreopsis grandiflora Hogg ex Sweet `Early Sunrise' and Hibiscus moscheutos L. `Disco Belle Mixed', 2 hours for Campanula carpatica Jacq. `Blue Clips' and Coreopsis verticillata L. `Moonbeam', and 4 hours for unchilled R. fulgida `Goldsturm'. Echinacea purpurea Moench `Bravado' flowered similarly across all lighting treatments. The 6/24 cyclic lighting regimen induced flowering comparable to that under a continual 4-hour NI for four of the six species and the cold-treated R. fulgida `Goldsturm'. Flowering under the 6/54 regimen was generally incomplete, nonuniform, and delayed compared to that under saturation duration treatments. Three of five species flowered earlier when more mature plants were placed under the NI treatments. Cold-treated R. fulgida `Goldsturm' flowered more rapidly than unchilled plants and the saturation duration of NI decreased to 1 hour.

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