Flowering Poppy Anemones

March 18, 2003 - 13:21

University of Alaska-Fairbanks research on poppy anemone reveals the best production guidelines for this popular potted plant or cut flower.

Poppy anemone, lily-of-the-field and windflower are names commonly
used for plants and flowers of Anemone coronaria L. As the name poppy anemone
suggests, the flowers are similar to poppies and come in various shades of
white, red, scarlet, blue and purple. As a finishing touch, centers of black
stamens complement the appearance, forming very attractive flowers. Poppy
anemones have been grown for years as cut flowers either in fields or
greenhouses. Another marketing opportunity is as flowering potted plants. In
areas with moderate climates, poppy anemones are also suitable as early
spring-flowering bedding plants.

Recommendations

Tubers are the traditional propagation method, although seed
propagated F1 hybrids are now available. Since tubers potentially carry
disease, seed is the preferred propagation technique. The most commonly grown
seed propagated cultivar is the Mona Lisa series. The seed should be lightly
covered at sowing, and recommended temperature for germination is 60° F.
Germination is expected to take 1-2 weeks, and the seedlings are transplanted 6-8
weeks from seeding. Young plants are expected to develop well at 45-55° F.
Following transplant, temperatures at 58-65° F are recommended during the
day and 42-50° F during the night. Temperatures approaching 75° F are
reported to inhibit flowering and initiate dormancy.

Information on flowering response to day length is limited,
although the production of poppy anemone usually occurs under the natural short
days of winter. In the natural habitat of the Mediterranean, poppy anemones go
into dormancy during the hot and dry summer and resume growth and flowering as
temperatures cool and moisture increases in the fall and winter. Short days
have been suggested to speed up flowering and long days to reduce the time
period the plants continue to produce flowers. Shaded conditions have been
reported to result in longer flower stems.

Conditions of the study

Mona Lisa seed was germinated at 60° F to determine
flowering at various temperatures and day lengths. The seedlings were
transplanted into 4-inch pots filled with a peatlite medium after 56 days. At
this time, the young plants had 1-2 true leaves. Plants were irrigated using a
fertilizer solution of 100 ppm nitrogen from a complete fertilizer with
micronutrients. Á

Plants were grown using five environments of temperatures
and day lengths. The conditions were 8-, 12- or 16-hour days at 61° F and
12-hour days at 54 or 68° F. To get similar daily amounts of light
independent of day length, the instantaneous light was adjusted to 2,000
foot-candles (400 µmol·m-2 s-1) during an 8-hour day, 1,400
foot-candles (280 µmol·m-2s-1) during the 12-hour day and 1,000
foot-candles (200 µmol·m-2s-1) during the 16-hour day. The
corresponding 12 mol·day-1m-2 is expected at bench level in greenhouses
covered with glass during cloudy summer days in the midwestern United States.
After eight weeks, all plants were moved to a 60° F greenhouse at 10-12
mol·day-1m-2 during 16-hour days.

Appearance of 1/5-inch large flower buds and open flowers
was recorded. The number of leaves, the flower stem length and the size of the
flowers were also determined for each plant.

Findings and results

Time to flower. In
this study, the longest days and the lowest temperatures resulted in fastest
flowering. Plants at 16-hour days and 61° F had flower buds 56 days from
transplant (115 days from seeding, see figure 1 page 38). Flower buds appeared
eight days later for plants grown at 8- or 12-hour days than for plants grown
at 16-hour days. At the lowest temperature of 54° F at 12-hour days, flower
buds were observed after approximately 59 days (see figure 1, page 38). Five
more days were required for flower bud appearance at 61° F and 15 more days
at 68° F. The development between bud appearance and open flowers took
20-23 days in the greenhouse environment, independent of the initial growing
conditions.

Flower stem length.
The flower stems varied in length from 9.5-12.5 inches (see figure 2, page 40).
Plants grown at 68° F or the shorter day lengths had flower stems 2-3
inches shorter than those grown at 54° F or 16-hour days. The conditions
supporting fast flower initiation also resulted in plants with the longest
flower stems. Low temperatures Á (54° F) or long days are therefore
expected to most efficiently support cut flower production. Since flower initiation
was delayed at 68° F, combining short days with 54° F or lower
temperatures may more effectively produce short poppy anemones for the bedding
plant market or as potted plants.

Number of leaves.
Independent of day length, additional leaves developed at higher temperatures
(see figure 3, page 41). Plants had nine leaves at 54° F, 12 leaves at
60° F and 14 leaves at 68° F. More leaves appear to be the result of
faster leaf formation and development at the higher temperatures rather than
correlated to the timing of flower initiation.

Flower size. The
flower diameter at 3 inches was similar for all plants. Since flower
development was completed in the same temperature environment, differences in
the flower size were not expected. Low temperature during the final stages of
plant and flower development may, as found in many other floriculture crops,
increase the flower diameter.

Conclusions and recommendations

The earlier recommended temperature for growing poppy
anemone is 58-65° F during the day and 42-50° F during the night.
Assuming 12-hour days, the average daily temperature would be 50-57° F in
this recommendation. In this study, with constant temperatures, flowering was
fastest at 54° F. Although this is within the recommended range, the
optimum for efficient flower initiation may be lower than 54° F. Contrary
to standard recommendations, temperatures of 68º F did not prevent or
eliminate initiation or flowering, though development was slower. Additional
studies are necessary to determine the upper limit for production of poppy
anemones.

Despite earlier reports for quicker flowering at short days,
the long 16-hour days produced flowers approximately one week earlier than 8-
or 12-hour days. Therefore, extending a natural short day can be expected to
improve and enhance flowering and production. Since conditions supporting fast
flowering also resulted in tall plants, producing poppy anemones effectively
with limited height may be a challenge. The difference between day and night
temperatures (DIF) is a potential alternative temperature strategy for
producing poppy anemones with desired plant height and prolific flowering.

About The Author

Meriam Karlsson is professor of horticulture at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She may be reached by phone at (907) 474-7005 or E-mail at ffmgk@uaf.edu.

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