Flowering Poppy Anemones By Meriam Karlsson

Poppy anemone, lily-of-the-field and windflower are names commonlyused for plants and flowers of Anemone coronaria L. As the name poppy anemonesuggests, the flowers are similar to poppies and come in various shades ofwhite, red, scarlet, blue and purple. As a finishing touch, centers of blackstamens complement the appearance, forming very attractive flowers. Poppyanemones have been grown for years as cut flowers either in fields orgreenhouses. Another marketing opportunity is as flowering potted plants. Inareas with moderate climates, poppy anemones are also suitable as earlyspring-flowering bedding plants.


Tubers are the traditional propagation method, although seedpropagated F1 hybrids are now available. Since tubers potentially carrydisease, seed is the preferred propagation technique. The most commonly grownseed propagated cultivar is the Mona Lisa series. The seed should be lightlycovered at sowing, and recommended temperature for germination is 60° F.Germination is expected to take 1-2 weeks, and the seedlings are transplanted 6-8weeks from seeding. Young plants are expected to develop well at 45-55° F.Following transplant, temperatures at 58-65° F are recommended during theday and 42-50° F during the night. Temperatures approaching 75° F arereported 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 shortdays of winter. In the natural habitat of the Mediterranean, poppy anemones gointo dormancy during the hot and dry summer and resume growth and flowering astemperatures cool and moisture increases in the fall and winter. Short dayshave been suggested to speed up flowering and long days to reduce the timeperiod the plants continue to produce flowers. Shaded conditions have beenreported to result in longer flower stems.

Conditions of the study

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

Plants were grown using five environments of temperaturesand day lengths. The conditions were 8-, 12- or 16-hour days at 61° F and12-hour days at 54 or 68° F. To get similar daily amounts of lightindependent of day length, the instantaneous light was adjusted to 2,000foot-candles (400 µmol·m-2 s-1) during an 8-hour day, 1,400foot-candles (280 µmol·m-2s-1) during the 12-hour day and 1,000foot-candles (200 µmol·m-2s-1) during the 16-hour day. Thecorresponding 12 mol·day-1m-2 is expected at bench level in greenhousescovered with glass during cloudy summer days in the midwestern United States.After eight weeks, all plants were moved to a 60° F greenhouse at 10-12mol·day-1m-2 during 16-hour days.

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

Findings and results

Time to flower. Inthis study, the longest days and the lowest temperatures resulted in fastestflowering. Plants at 16-hour days and 61° F had flower buds 56 days fromtransplant (115 days from seeding, see figure 1 page 38). Flower buds appearedeight days later for plants grown at 8- or 12-hour days than for plants grownat 16-hour days. At the lowest temperature of 54° F at 12-hour days, flowerbuds were observed after approximately 59 days (see figure 1, page 38). Fivemore days were required for flower bud appearance at 61° F and 15 more daysat 68° F. The development between bud appearance and open flowers took20-23 days in the greenhouse environment, independent of the initial growingconditions.

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 2-3inches shorter than those grown at 54° F or 16-hour days. The conditionssupporting fast flower initiation also resulted in plants with the longestflower stems. Low temperatures Á (54° F) or long days are thereforeexpected to most efficiently support cut flower production. Since flower initiationwas delayed at 68° F, combining short days with 54° F or lowertemperatures may more effectively produce short poppy anemones for the beddingplant 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 at60° F and 14 leaves at 68° F. More leaves appear to be the result offaster leaf formation and development at the higher temperatures rather thancorrelated to the timing of flower initiation.

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

Conclusions and recommendations

The earlier recommended temperature for growing poppyanemone 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 inthis recommendation. In this study, with constant temperatures, flowering wasfastest at 54° F. Although this is within the recommended range, theoptimum for efficient flower initiation may be lower than 54° F. Contraryto standard recommendations, temperatures of 68º F did not prevent oreliminate initiation or flowering, though development was slower. Additionalstudies are necessary to determine the upper limit for production of poppyanemones.

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 toimprove and enhance flowering and production. Since conditions supporting fastflowering also resulted in tall plants, producing poppy anemones effectivelywith limited height may be a challenge. The difference between day and nighttemperatures (DIF) is a potential alternative temperature strategy forproducing poppy anemones with desired plant height and prolific flowering.

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Meriam Karlsson

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 [email protected]

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