Amaryllis belladonna is an autumn-flowering bulbous geophyte endemic to the Western Cape, South Africa. The species’ erratic flowering disposition and brief flowering period upon maturity limit its economic productivity and competitiveness within the traditional genera of cut flowers and potted plants. However, it can be an attractive, eco-friendly, seasonal addition to the specialty floriculture market. A 10-month study evaluated the effects of a warm storage period on A. belladonna bulbs’ flowering yield, flowering time, quality characteristics, and foliage growth.

The experiment comprised dormant flower-sized bulbs randomly assigned to one of six storage regimes of either a 0- (no storage control), 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, or 12-week interval periods at a continuous warm temperature of 23 ± 1 °C before planting into pots between mid-November 2021 and mid-February 2022 in the greenhouse. The results showed that flowering production (64.3% flowering after the 12-week storage), flowering time (anthesis occurring 9 days after the 10- and 12-week storage), and quality attributes (number of florets in the inflorescence, scape diameter, inflorescence fullness ratio, and pot longevity) of A. belladonna scapes were significantly impacted by warm bulb storage, but not foliage growth. Irrespective of bulb storage, inflorescence abortion occurred.

An extended bulb storage did not advance the flowering time despite a greater harvest and shorter cultivation periods after planting. This study established that a cumulative temperature range during bulb dormancy is crucial for supporting A. belladonna inflorescence maturity’s energetic demands and the opening of floret buds. Bulbs should be stored at elevated temperatures for at least 8–10 weeks to attain the best floret-quality attributes and longevity. However, for an economical and sustainable greenhouse and specialty cut flower production, 12-week warm bulb storage is recommended to achieve the optimal anthesis in the shortest interval for this seasonal single-harvest species after planting.

Wilmot, Carolyn & Jimoh, Muhali & Laubscher, Charles. (2023). Warm Bulb Storage Optimises Flowering Attributes and Foliage Characteristics in Amaryllis belladonna L.. Horticulturae. 9. 1271. 10.3390/horticulturae9121271.

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