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Alicain S. Carlson and John M. Dole

The effects of various postharvest treatments on cut stems of ‘Coral’ and ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ pineapple lily (Eucomis sp.) were evaluated to determine best postharvest handling practices. The use of a commercial hydrator, holding solution, or both significantly reduced vase life for ‘Coral’; the deionized (DI) water control had the longest vase life. ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ vase life was significantly reduced to 29.9 days when both a commercial hydrator and holding solution were used as compared with 50.3 days when DI water was the hydrator used with the commercial holding solution. The use of a bulb-specific preservative reduced vase life of ‘Coral’ to 43.8 days, while the DI water control had a vase life of 66.4 days, and commercial holding solution was intermediate at 56.8 days. A 10% sucrose pulse reduced vase life to 46.9 days compared with the 0% sucrose control (58.9 days) and the 20% sucrose concentration (62.5 days), which were not significantly different. The use of floral foam and/or 2% or 4% sucrose concentrations plus isothiazolinone reduced vase life significantly to an average of 11.1 days. The vase life of stems cold stored at 2 °C for 1 week (37.7 days) was not significantly different from the unstored stems (43.0 days), while longer storage times up to 3 weeks significantly reduced vase life. The use of hydrating solution pretreatments before and holding solution treatments during 4 days of cold storage had no significant effect on vase life. ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ stems harvested with 100% of the florets open had the longest vase life of 51.2 days compared with 38.4 days when 1% of the florets were open. Vase life was unaffected by exogenous ethylene exposure up to 1 ppm for 16 hours. For best postharvest quality, ‘Coral’ and ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ pineapple lily should be harvested when at least 50% of the florets are open, held in plain water without preservatives, and stored for no more than 1 week (wet or dry) at 2 °C.

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Alicain S. Carlson and John M. Dole

The effects of production temperature and transplant stage on stem length and caliper of cut stems and postharvest treatments on vase life of ‘Esprit’ penstemon (Penstemon grandiflorus) were examined. Plugs transplanted with eight to nine sets of true leaves had a longer stem length (64.3 cm) at harvest than those transplanted with two to three sets (57.7 cm) or five to six sets (60.8 cm). Time to flowering from transplant shortened as production temperature increased and when transplants had a greater number of true leaves. The addition of 2% or 4% sucrose with 7 ppm isothiazolinone as a vase solution resulted in the longest vase life (9.4 days) of all treatments compared with the control (4.5 days). A holding solution increased vase life to 7.0 days for Floralife holding solution and 5.9 days for Chrysal holding solution from the 4.3 days control, although hydrating solutions and preservative brand had no effect. The use of floral foam or antiethylene agents, ethylene exposure, or sucrose pulses also had no effect on vase life. Extended cold storage lengths either wet or dry for 2 or 3 weeks caused vase life to decrease to 2.0 days when compared with 5.6 days for the unstored control and 7.6 days for 1 week storage. ‘Esprit’ penstemon may be suitable for greenhouse production and has acceptable potential as a locally grown specialty cut flower.

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Alicain S. Carlson and John M. Dole

Pineapple lily (Eucomis hybrids) has long, striking inflorescences that work well as a cut flower, but information is needed on proper production methods and postharvest handling protocols. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of bulb storage temperature and duration, production environment, planting density, and forcing temperatures on cut flower production of ‘Coral’, ‘Cream’, ‘Lavender’, and ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ pineapple lily. Stem length was greater in the greenhouse than the field and at the low planting density. Plants in the field at the low planting density had the shortest stem length for ‘Coral’ and ‘Cream’, but still produced marketable lengths of at least 30 cm. Planting density did not affect ‘Lavender’ and ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ stem length or number of marketable stems. The productivity (number of marketable stems per bulb) was affected only by planting density for ‘Coral’ and planting environment for ‘Cream’. Differences in stem quality and productivity differed for each cultivar and planting density over the next two seasons. The productivity of ‘Coral’ increased significantly from year to year, while the productivity of ‘Cream’ only significantly increased between the first and second years. The low planting density resulted in slightly more stems per bulb for ‘Coral’ over the next two seasons. Emergence after bulb storage treatments was highest in treatments where the bulbs were not lifted from the substrate and were subsequently grown at 18 °C. Bulbs grown in the warmest (18 °C) production temperature flowered soonest and had shorter stem lengths. For earliest flowering, bulbs should be stored in substrate in cool temperatures of at least 13 °C and forced at warm temperatures of at least 18 °C.

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Alicain S. Carlson, John M. Dole, and Brian E. Whipker

Plant growth regulators (PGRs) are used to control excessive plant growth in potted crops to improve quality and compactness for shipping and display. Pineapple lily (Eucomis sp.), a recent introduction to the potted crop market, can have excessive foliage growth and inflorescence height making the use of PGRs desirable. Bulbs of ‘Leia’ pineapple lily were forced in the greenhouse and drenched at leaf whorl emergence with three PGRs at five different concentrations: 1) flurprimidol (0.25, 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, and 4.0 mg per 6.5-inch pot), 2) uniconazole (0.25, 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, and 4.0 mg/pot), or 3) paclobutrazol (0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 4.0 and 8.0 mg/pot) and an untreated control. As concentration increased, days to anthesis increased and foliage height decreased for each PGR. Paclobutrazol (4.0 and 8.0 mg/pot), uniconazole (4.0 mg/pot), and flurprimidol (2.0 and 4.0 mg/pot) treatments resulted in excessive stunting with none of the plants being marketable. Flurprimidol had the greatest influence on plant growth among all the PGRs. Acceptable concentrations for each PGR are paclobutrazol at 0.5 to 2.0 mg/pot, uniconazole at 0.25 to 2.0 mg/pot, and flurprimidol at 0.5 to 1.0 mg/pot based on percentage of marketable plants and foliage and inflorescence height suppression without excessively increasing the number of days to anthesis.

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Erin M.R. Clark, John M. Dole, Alicain S. Carlson, Erin P. Moody, Ingram F. McCall, Frankie L. Fanelli, and William C. Fonteno

Each year a wide variety of new cultivars and species are evaluated in the National Cut Flower Trial Programs administered by North Carolina State University and the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Stems of promising and productive cultivars from the National Trial Program were pretreated with either a commercial hydrating solution or deionized (DI) water and placed in either a commercial holding solution or DI water. Over 8 years, the vase life of 121 cultivars representing 47 cut flower genera was determined. Although there was cultivar variation within each genus, patterns of postharvest responses have emerged. The largest category, with 53 cultivars, was one in which a holding preservative increased vase life of the following genera and species: acidanthera (Gladiolus murielae), basil (Ocimum basilicum), bee balm (Monarda hybrid), black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hybrids), campanula (Campanula species), celosia (Celosia argentea), common ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), coral bells (Heuchera hybrids), feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), ladybells (Adenophora hybrid), lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum), lobelia (Lobelia hybrids), obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana), ornamental pepper (Capsicum annuum), pincushion flower (Scabiosa atropurpurea), pinkflower (Indigofera amblyantha), seven-sons flower (Heptacodium miconioides), shasta daisy (Leucanthemum superbum), sunflower (Helianthus annuus), snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), sweet william (Dianthus hybrids), trachelium (Trachelium caeruleum), and zinnia (Zinnia elegans). Hydrating preservatives increased the vase life of four basils, coral bells, and sunflower cultivars. The combined use of hydrator and holding preservatives increased the vase life of three black-eyed susan, seven-sons flower, and sunflower cultivars. Holding preservatives reduced the vase life of 14 cultivars of the following genera and species: ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum), false queen anne's lace (Ammi species), knotweed (Persicaria hybrid), lisianthus, pineapple lily (Eucomis comosa), sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), yarrow (Achillea millifolium), and zinnia. Hydrating preservatives reduced the vase life of 18 cultivars of the following genera and species: feverfew, lisianthus, ornamental pepper, pineapple lily, seven-sons flower, shasta daisy, sneezeweed, sweet william, sunflower, trachelium, yarrow, and zinnia. The combined use of hydrating and holding preservatives reduced the vase life of 12 cultivars in the following genera and species: false queen anne's lace, feverfew, pincushion flower, sneezeweed, sunflower, trachelium, yarrow, and zinnia. Data for the remaining 50 cultivars were not significant among the treatments; these genera and species included beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), black-eyed susan, blue mist (Caryopteris clandonensis), calendula (Calendula officinalis), campanula, cleome (Cleome hasserliana), common ninebark, dahlia (Dahlia hybrids), delphinium (Delphinium hybrids), flowering peach (Prunus persica forma versicolor), heliopsis (Heliopsis helianthoides), hemp agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), himalayan honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa), hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata), larkspur (Consolida hybrids), lily of the nile (Agapanthus hybrid), lisianthus, lobelia, ornamental pepper, pineapple lily, scented geranium (Pelargonium hybrid), sunflower, sweet william, and zinnia.