Experiments were conducted to evaluate effects of photoperiod on growth and dry-weight partitioning in Dahlia sp. `Sunny Rose' during both seedling (plug) production and subsequent production in 10-cm pots. Plugs were grown under short days [9-hour natural photosynthetic photon flux (PPF)] or long days (same 9-hour PPF plus a 4-hour night interruption with incandescent light). Total plant dry weight was unaffected by photoperiod; however, long days (LD) inhibited tuberous root development and increased shoot dry weight, fibrous root dry weight, leaf area, shoot length, and number of leaf pairs. Long days reduced plug production time by ≈1 week compared with short days (SD). Following transplanting to 10-cm pots, shoot growth and foliar development were superior under LD. There was no effect of photoperiod on foliar N concentration. The superior growth of LD plugs following transplanting can be attributed to the plant being in a physiological state conducive to shoot expansion instead of storage.
Several experiments were conducted to find effective ways of utilizing gibberellin4+7 (GA4+7) and benzyladenine (BA) to prevent leaf chlorosis during greenhouse production of Easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum Thunb.) while minimizing the undesirable side effects on stem elongation. On an absolute concentration basis, GA4+7 was much more effective than BA in preventing leaf chlorosis. Excessive levels of GA4+7, however, tended to cause stem elongation. When applied at around the visible bud stage, if the foliage was well covered with the spray solution, 25 mg·L-1 of GA4+7 was adequate for maximum protection against leaf chlorosis. Increasing the GA4+7 concentration above 25 mg·L-1 gave no additional benefit on leaf chlorosis. Two possible modes of GA4+7 uptake during a foliar spray application (absorption through leaves and stems, and root uptake of the extra run-off) were studied in terms of their relative contribution to leaf chlorosis and stem elongation. Although both modes of uptake prevented leaf chlorosis, foliar uptake was much more effective than root uptake. However, GA4+7 taken up by the roots contributed mainly to stem elongation. When sprayed to leaves on only the lower half of the plant, a 10-mL spray of either 25 or 50 mg·L-1 of each GA4+7 and BA was enough for complete protection against leaf chlorosis. Increasing volumes had no additional benefit on leaf chlorosis, but increased the chances of unwanted stem elongation.
Ornamental geophytes comprise a large and diverse group of plants characterized by underground storage organs that serve the obvious function of reserve storage and subsequent supply during early stages of shoot growth. Relative to many agronomic and horticultural crops, the fundamental physiological bases of carbon metabolism, partitioning, and utilization in geophytes are unclear. One reason is diversity in organ morphology (bulb, corm, tuber, root, rhizome, etc.), storage carbohydrate (starch, fructan, glucomannan, etc.), and growth habit (e.g., synanthous vs. hysteranthous flowering). Knowledge of factors that control accumulation and mobilization of carbohydrate reserves may lead to manipulations that considerably improve the quality and culture of these crops. We are utilizing a variety of techniques and experimental systems to study selected internal and external controls or influences on geophyte carbohydrate metabolism and partitioning. Specific examples to be discussed include bulb storage temperature effects on starch and fructan metabolism in Tulipa, effects of carbon source and dormancy breaking treatments on starch and glucomannan metabolism in in vitro-grown Lilium bulblets, photoperiod control of fructan accumulation in Dahlia seedlings, and biochemical and molecular features of soluble and wall-bound invertases in developing Lilium longiflorum flower buds.