Developmental and post-harvest physiology of woody ornamental cut branches

Jed A Young, Purdue University


There exists an ongoing pursuit of novel plant material for use in the floral industry. New textures, flowers, and plant growth habits are desired that deviate from the traditional herbaceous material that has historically dominated the trade. We have chosen to study a number of woody ornamental species with possibilities for use as cut branches in floral arrangements. The research herein was performed to inspect the production aspects of selected woody ornamentals, to study premature defoliation of woody species for use as cut branches, to investigate the use of heat shock in manipulating flower and vegetative bud dormancies of Forsythia, and to examine the role of the plant hormone, ethylene, in the early defoliation of deciduous holly (Ilex verticillata 'Winter Red'). Production data regarding branch lengths, yields, and market values for Cornus and Salix spp. are presented over a four-year study. Data on dormancies and sustainable harvests of Salix spp., and the premature defoliation of the branches using ethylene and ethylene-inducing agents, are also presented. We have discovered heat shock intensities and durations that affect both flower and vegetative bud dormancies in Forsythia, and can be used to extend their utility as cut branch material by as much as two months. Finally, we present data that allows for defoliating fruited, foliated cut branches of deciduous holly, without compromising fruit quality or retention, using both exogenous and endogenous ethylene.




Moser, Purdue University.

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