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Open access

Michael Alden and James E. Faust

The effects of day temperature (DT), night temperature (NT), and night length (NL) were evaluated on the flowering responses of heat-tolerant and heat-sensitive poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch) cultivars Orion Red and Prestige Red, respectively. Plants were placed under 60 DT × NT × NL treatments that consisted of three DT (20, 24, 28 °C), four NT (16, 20, 24, 28 °C), and five NL (10, 11, 12, 13, 14 hours) for the first 17 days of the experiment. After 17 days, all plants were consolidated to one greenhouse with an inductive environment (14-hour NL, 24 ± 2.0 °C DT and 21.2 ± 1.4 °C NT), and the timing of first color, visible bud, and anthesis were recorded. ‘Orion Red’ reached anthesis 8 to 10 days faster than ‘Prestige Red’ across all NLs; however, in both cultivars, days to anthesis decreased in a sigmoidal pattern as NL increased. The relative rate of progress to anthesis (1/days to anthesis) under a 12-hour NL was approximately half that of plants grown at a 13- or 14-hour NL. At a 12-hour NL, the relative rate of progress to anthesis decreased linearly as DT increased for both cultivars. At 13- to 14-hour NL, DT had relatively little effect on the relative rate of progress to anthesis. Thus, high DT delayed flowering of both heat-tolerant and heat-sensitive cultivars when flower initiation occurred under NL, typical of naturally occurring NLs in September and early October (i.e., 12-hour NL), whereas high DT did not delay flowering for either cultivar under a 14-hour NL, which is typically provided under black cloth systems. In contrast, the flowering responses to NT were quite different for the two cultivars. The heat-tolerant cultivar showed relatively little change in the relative rate of progress to anthesis as NT increased from 16 to 28 °C within each NL treatment; however, the heat-sensitive cultivar displayed a large decrease in the relative rate progress to anthesis as NT increased from 20 to 28 °C within each NL treatment. Although the delayed flowering that occurred at 28 °C and 14-hour NL was significant, the relative rate of progress to anthesis at this treatment was significantly higher than the 28 °C and 12-hour NL treatment. This suggests that artificially shortening NL to 14 hours with a black cloth system does not prevent heat delay of poinsettia, but it allows for more rapid flowering than if flower initiation took place under natural NL (≈12 hours). To summarize, high DT affected flowering when flower initiation took place at 12-hour NL for heat-tolerant and heat-sensitive poinsettia cultivars, whereas high NT uniquely delayed flowering of the heat-sensitive cultivar at NL from 12 to 14 hours.

Open access

Michael Alden and James E. Faust

The effect of night length (NL) on the flower development of poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch) ‘Prestige Red’ was evaluated. Flower initiation occurred by subjecting plants to a 14-hour NL for 10 or 17 days, termed short-day (SD) treatments, and then transferring the plants to each of four NL treatments (11, 12, 13, or 14 hours) to observe the effects of NL on flower development. The plants grown continuously with the 14-h NL treatment were the control group. The timing of first color, visible bud, and anthesis were recorded during flower development, and bract and leaf data were collected at anthesis. Leaf number was unaffected by the SD or NL treatments, suggesting that flower initiation occurred during the 10-day SD treatment before the start of NL treatments; thus, the NL treatments only affected flower development. The timing of first color and visible bud were significantly delayed with the 10-day SD × 11-hour NL treatment relative to the 14-hour NL control; however, first color and visible bud were not delayed with the 17-day SD × 11-hour NL treatment. The 11-hour NL treatment resulted in fewer plants reaching anthesis, and these plants had fewer stem bracts and less bract color development compared with the 12-hour, 13-hour, and 14-hour NL treatments. Therefore, an 11-hour NL is suboptimal for flower development; nonetheless, significant development did occur. The 12-hour NL resulted in less color development than the 13-hour and 14-hour NL treatments in the lowest stem bract positions, but the plants had a commercially acceptable appearance. These results demonstrate that minimal differences in flower development occur with NL ≥12 hours, but that optimal development required NL ≥13 hours.