Peony plants require temperate winter temperatures to break underground bud dormancy and allow shoot emergence and flowering in spring. This study assessed whether artificial chilling at 4 °C for 2–6 weeks could induce shoot emergence and flowering under subtropical conditions. It also assessed whether pre-treatment at cool temperatures prior to chilling or gibberellin application after chilling promoted shoot emergence and flowering.
Artificial chilling at 4 °C for 4 or 6 weeks promoted the greatest shoot emergence. Pre-treatment at cool temperatures did not affect shoot growth or flower bud production but it improved shoot emergence from plants also treated with gibberellin. Gibberellin more than doubled the number of shoots per plant without affecting shoot length. The optimal treatment combination for shoot emergence, growth, and flower bud production was pre-treatment from 20 °C to 8 °C over an 8-day period in autumn, chilling at 4 °C for 6 weeks in early winter, and treatment with 250 mL of 100 mg/L GA3, before returning plants to subtropical winter conditions.
This treatment combination provided medians of 3 (0–7) and 8 (0–31) flower buds per plant in the second and third years of production, respectively. Peony flowers can be produced in subtropical climates using artificial chilling and gibberellin, allowing out-of-season market supply.
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Bogiatzis, Krista & Wallace, Helen & Trueman, Stephen. (2021). Shoot Growth and Flower Bud Production of Peony Plants under Subtropical Conditions. Horticulturae. 7. 476. 10.3390/horticulturae7110476.