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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1031: XI International Protea Research Symposium

CHARACTERISING FLORAL STEMS IN WARATAHS

Authors:   R. McConchie, K. Dinham, B. Gollnow, C.A. Offord
Keywords:   control of flowering time, environmental factors, stem characteristics, Telopea speciosissima
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2014.1031.2
Abstract:
Waratahs (Telopea speciosissima) bloom within a six to eight week window in spring. However, growers would like to be able to extend the season in order to market flowers earlier or later and avoid market gluts. Research on Banksia and Protea suggests stem diameter and carbohydrate status may be a predictor of competence to flower. The aim of this project was to gather preliminary data to characterise the flowering and non-flowering stems of three commonly grown waratah cultivars. Stem diameter, bud height and bud diameter of ‘Wirrimbirra White’, ‘Fire and Brimstone’ and ‘Mirrigan’, were measured twice during the lead up to flowering at five commercial farms located in New South Wales and Victoria. For all three cultivars, there was a significant difference between the stem diameter of flowering stems and of vegetative stems. Floral stems had one to two times the diameter of vegetative stems. Bud height and width for all cultivars was also significantly different between floral and vegetative stems and was evident from early floral development (data not shown). There was significant variation in stem measurements between farms and between cultivars, suggesting that location, cultural practices and cultivar influences the traits measured. This research will assist growers to identify stems that have the competency to become floral and potentially manage the canopy to extend flowering time.

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