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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1031: XI International Protea Research Symposium

ENVIRONMENTAL PREDICTORS OF FLOWERING TIME IN WARATAHS

Authors:   R. McConchie, B. Woodward, B. Gollnow, C.A. Offord, A. Bokshi, P. Geelan-Small
Keywords:   temperature, altitude, seasonal flowering
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2014.1031.3
Abstract:
The New South Wales (NSW) waratah, or Telopea speciosissima, is endemic to eastern Australia and is well known as the floral emblem of NSW. Waratahs flower within a six to eight week window in Spring. Several cultivars of T. speciosissima and hybrids from T. speciosissima and T. mongaensis have been selected to extend the flowering season and to provide an array of colours from whites, to pinks and reds. While they can potentially fill a highly profitable niche in the Christmas market, the current short flowering season prevents this from being a reality for growers. Research relating to other members of the Proteaceae family, suggests that flowering may be manipulated in waratahs, allowing the flowering season to be extended to the lucrative Christmas market. There is very little published information about when the main cultivars flower in different growing locations. As part of a larger study into waratah flowering, a grower survey was undertaken to investigate the peak time of flowering for three main cultivars in different regions in Australia. The results from one season suggest that timing of flowering for all cultivars is related to latitude and altitude. Waratahs grown at high altitudes, or at the more southern latitudes, consistently flowered later in the 2010 season. This opens up the possibility for more southerly locations such as Tasmania to fill the Christmas market.

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