Effects of Preservatives and Cold Storage on Postharvest Performance of Deciduous Holly Branches

in HortTechnology

Deciduous holly branches were visually rated over a period of 5 weeks to evaluate differences in display life between various cultivars of winterberry (Ilex verticillata) and japanese winterberry (I. serrata) x winterberry. Holly branches were naturally defoliated and the postharvest performance of the cut branches was therefore based on the quality and longevity of the fruit. Chemical treatments including floral preservative, floral preservative plus silver, and anti-transpirant were also evaluated. `Bonfire' and `Sunset' had the highest ratings for marketability based on the longevity and quality of their fruit. `Bonfire' and `Winter Red' had the highest fruit density per stem. Treatment with floral preservatives significantly increased the display life of holly branches. Preservative plus silver delayed deterioration later in the study, presumably by delaying the senescence of the fruit. Anti-transpirant treatment did not decrease solution uptake by the holly stems. Cold storage of dry branches at 0.00 ± 1.11 °C (32.0 ± 2.0 °F) did not significantly reduce branch display life if held for 23 days or less. Cut branches of all cultivars had a longer display life when stuck in sand and left outdoors in a lath house than when rated in vase solutions indoors. This study indicates that deciduous holly branches provide an attractive alternative cut branch for both interior and outdoor holiday displays.

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