Research Matters - Storage of Antirrhinum spikes

Antirrhinum (snapdragons) are gaining in popularity in the UK as cut flowers, but have the disadvantage that they bend upwards if kept horizontal.

In the following experiments, flower spikes of 'Rocket' and 'Potomac Pink' Antirrhinum were stored horizontally either wet (in water) or dry (in newspaper) for five days at temperatures between 0 and 12.5 degsC.

Vase life was then assessed at 20 degsC. Vase life shortened as the storage temperature increased above 0 degsC and bending became more pronounced. Flowers quickly fell off when spikes were stored at 7.5 degsC or above. The damaging effects of temperatures above 0 degsC were less when spikes were stored wet. Freshly harvested spikes were also treated with fourt millimolar silver thiosulphate solution (STS) for one hour or with 500 nanolitres per litre of 1-MCP (1-methylcyclopropene) for six hours.

They were then laid horizontally for two days at 20 degsC in clean air or air containing ethylene (one nanolitre per litre). Upward bending could be detected within an hour and was unaffected by ethylene. However, ethylene did promote flower loss and this was prevented by pre-treatment with either STS or 1-MCP. Antirrhinum spikes should be stored at 0 degsC, or slightly above as this will prolong their vase life and will almost eliminate gravity-induced bending.

Temperature, ethylene and the postharvest performance of cut snapdragons by celikel, Cevallos and Reid (2010). Scientia Horticulturae 125 (3): 429-433. The contents of issues of Scientia Horticulturae and abstracts of papers are provided at www.elsevier.com/locate/scihorti


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