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Making red lilies bloom earlier for Christmas

Making red lilies bloom earlier for Christmas markets

The bright red Opal lily cultivars can be sold into the lucrative Christmas markets around the world thanks to work by a Crop & Food Research scientist who has discovered how to make it flower several weeks earlier.

Opal lilies (formerly known as Cyrtanthus) used to flower for about three weeks in late January/early February. By using new cultivars and changing day length and temperature Glenn Clark, of Crop & Food Research, Pukekohe, now has them opening their buds as early as October.

“There are several new cultivars, some of them naturally flowering as early as November and now we have them producing flowers up to two months earlier,” Mr Clark says.

Having a series of cultivars flowering in sequence from October until March extends the market window for Opal lily grower, John Meyer of Windmill Horticulture.

He says “It’s great to have a flower available to the market for six months of the year because as the market begins to recognise that a flower is available, the demand grows and we can continue to supply it”

Some of the bulbs grow well in harsh, dry conditions and so Opal lilies are named after the desert gem that also comes in many colours. In addition to supplying the cut-flower markets in Japan, the US and Europe where the intricate form of the bloom is in demand, John Meyer intends to supply bulbs to Chile and Holland and pot-plants to New Zealand and off-shore.

Extending flowering and changing the timing of flowering is part of Crop & Food Research’s Fashionable Plants programme that also uses new technologies and systems to improve crop production, develop new propagation systems and breed new cultivars. Through the programme, that is supported by the Foundation of Research Science and Technology, Crop & Food Research is working with companies like Windmill Horticulture to increase value from ornamental exports.

If you are interested in sharing in leading ornamental developments do contact
Crop & Food Research.


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