Here a lily. There a lily. Everywhere you look a lily.
The East Conservatory at Longwood Gardens was fully decorated with cut lilies earlier this week for the Lilytopia grower symposium and the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers quarterly meeting. Lilytopia, which is Longwood’s new event that showcases the newest lilies Dutch hybridizers have developed, opened last Friday with Dutch Ambassador Renée Jones-Bos serving as a master of ceremonies.
Tens of thousands of visitors have strolled through Longwood’s East Conservatory since Lilytopia kicked off last week in Kennett Square, Pa., and the event remains open through Memorial Day.
But Monday, Longwood served as host to Lilytopia and the Lilytopia Symposium, an educational event designed for cut or potted lily growers. Among the symposium’s speakers were Cornell’s Bill Miller, North Carolina State’s John Dole, the Fred C. Gloeckner Company’s Ron Beck and Arie Peterse, a Dutch breeder at Marklily.
Primarily, Lilytopia was created to get consumers excited about lilies they haven’t seen before or don’t know about. The Lilytopia Symposium was designed to discuss additional ways growers can present cut and potted lilies to consumers, share production tips and give growers who don’t have a history with lilies a crash course in them.
Asiatics, Orientals & The Others
Peterse provided the crash course in cut and potted lilies and discussed market changes in Asiatics, Longiflorems, Orientals, Trumpets and LA, LO and OT hybrids. Asiatics and Orientals still make up a large portion of the lily market in the United States today, but Peterse says the introduction of new hybrids offers great potential for lilies. And those introductions are resulting in market shifts.
The LOs (Longiflorum-Orientals), for example, have multiple possibilities, Peterse says, because of their upright-facing ability. LOs are mostly whites while some are soft pinks or whites with dark centers. They represent a small number of the total lilies in the U.S. market. Peterse says the OTs (Oriental-Trumpets) have great potential, too.
“Orientals will stay important for at least another decade,” Peterse says. “The OTs are becoming more important because of their color, flower position and length, and the LAs (Longiflorum-Asiatics) will stay important.”
OTLAs, a potential super hybrid with characteristics of Orientals, Trumpets, Longiflorums and Asiatics, would be the ultimate lily, Peterse says. But growers shouldn’t expect an OTLA to hit the market for at least a few more years. Dutch breeders are currently experimenting with them.
In addition to Peterse, Cornell’s Miller shared his latest lily research. At Cornell, Miller and his team have been studying post-harvest leaf yellow and upper leaf necrosis in potted lilies. Leaf yellowing typically occurs after lilies have been moved out of cold storage and into the greenhouse. One solution to lessening or avoiding leaf yellowing is gradually exposing lilies to warmer temperatures. The temperature differential between a cooler and the greenhouse can be somewhat shocking to lilies, so Miller suggests moving lilies into a somewhat warmer cooler before exposing them to a greenhouse environment.
Also highly effective in reducing leaf yellowing, Miller says, is a one-to-one mixture of benzyladenine (BA) and Gibberellin 4+7 (GA 4+7). Applying a product like Valent’s Fascination does the trick at Cornell.
Upper leaf necrosis (ULN) is another common greenhouse problem potted lily growers come across. ULN is a calcium deficiency problem that occurs because lily leaves overlap each other and reduce transpiration. It’s a problem more for larger bulbs than smaller ones.
One solution the Cornell research team has found is bending lily leaves back one by one so they can transpire. But no grower in a commercial setting has the time or resources to bend individual potted lily leaves’ back. So instead, Cornell researchers purchased low-end fans at Walmart, set them on the high speeds, attached them to watering booms and put the fans to work blowing leaves back. The experiment was a step forward in eliminating ULN.
For more Lilytopia highlights, stay tuned to GreenhouseGrower.com over the next week.