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General Session


30 years for geophyte production in changing climate – where science meets technology

Rina Kamenetsky-Goldstein (
Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center, Bet-Dagan, Israel

Efficient horticulture, based on the quality of plant material, new and improved varieties and technological innovations, is the most active sector of agriculture. New insights and evolving production technologies are needed to increase revenue, reduce costs and conquer new market niches. Climate and electric solutions in greenhouses, systems for heating and cooling, soilless production, automation and robotics – this is just a short list of new technological developments in horticulture that can be and are already in use in various countries. In geophytes, the contribution of research in plant physiology and developmental mechanisms for the advancement of new technologies is especially important due to the complicated life cycle and environmental requirements. Flowering programming for cut flowers and potted plants requires in-depth understanding and precise regulation of all stages of florogenesis. For bulb production, precision agriculture and biocontrol are essential. Recent developments in the global industry of peony cut flowers production and flowering advancement in warm regions present an example of strong collaboration between science and technological innovations. Despite the popularity of cut peonies, several factors restrict their production: complicated flowering physiology, challenges of mass propagation, and postharvest handling. Implementing the expanded knowledge in peony biology, we are able to produce quality flowers off-season for special market niches.

Keywords: bulb production, flower bulbs, flowering, innovations, ornamental perennials


Biotechnology in the breeding of ornamental geophytes

Ki-Byung Lim (

Kyungpook National University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Department of Horticultural Science, Daegu, Korea

Plant breeding of ornamental plants – including ornamental geophytes – has grown into an importantfieldforthelastdecades.Modernornamentalgeophytebreedingapproachessuch as intra- and interspecificc ross-breeding o r p olyploidization b reeding a re p ivotal and understanding the inheritance of genetic traits has significantly a ccelerated t he p ace of it. As a result, it is estimated that about 85,000 to 99,000 ornamental plant species are existing throughout the world currently and these include both wild and cultivated species. One of the main approaches, interspecific c ross ( hybridization) b reeding i s i deal for ornamental geophytes that have high heterozygosity compared to other geophytes, enabling the introduction of novel genes into a breeding gene pool and increasing genetic variation. Entirely new traits can be achieved when distant species are crossed, and this approach has substantially improved breeding programs of lily, Marantaceae, Asclepias sp., Pavonia, etc. along with deep comprehension of overcoming crossing barriers and their mechanism. The majority of interspecific c rosses p resent d ifficulties due to the se cro ssing bar riers (po stzygotic), e.g . embryo abortion, reduced vigor, or endosperm degeneration. However, these challenges can be overcome by tissue culture techniques such asembryo rescue, ovary culture, or ovule culture that are widely applied for interspecific crosses. In addition to these challenges, interspecific F1 hybrids can be sterile due to the barrier, therefore, restricting further usage of these hybrids inbreeding programs. However, polyploidization via chromosome doubling can restore fertility in F1 hybrids by generating ‘unreduced gametes (2n)’, where the male or female gametes (meiotic cells) have the same number of chromosomes as somatic cells and they can be induced under stresses e.g. temperature or by chemical treatment e.g. colchicine. The application of unreduced gametes provides great potential for ornamental geophyte breeding since they can shorten the amount of time to produce triploid progenies. Since these understandings on the inheritance of traits and hybridization of distantly related species have accelerated ornamental geophyte breeding, the application of molecular markers has greatly improved the efficiency by ensuring the plants possess certain traits such as flower color and flower longevity or disease resistance. Development and use of molecular markers are limited to certain crops such as rose, carnation, chrysanthemum, and lily, since the availability of genetic and genomic resources of highly heterogenic ornamental crops with large and complex genomes. Nevertheless, together with developing sequencing techniques, novel molecular markers to identify specific traits are developing expeditiously. Lastly, together with mutation breeding and genetic transformation, the Cluster Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)-Cas9 system is one of the biotechnological tools that has been introduced to modern ornamental geophytes breeding. It has successfully modified the flower color in Petunia from purple violet to pale purplish pink by targeting specific genes. CRISPR system has its strength where it can precisely target specific genome sequences to obtain desired traits. Ornamental geophytes breeding today can be complex and facing several challenges due to their characteristics, however, constant development and application of diverse breeding tools can secure sustainable breeding of a wide range of ornamental crops.

Keywords: breeding, cytogenetics, embryo rescue, molecular marker, ornamental plants 



Production and breeding of bulbous plants and herbaceous perennials in Poland

Dariusz Sochacki (, Tomasz Michalik, Jadwiga Treder

Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Section of Ornamental Plants, Warsaw, Poland

Vitroflora, Trzesacz, Poland
The National Institute of Horticultural Reserach, Skierniewice, Poland

Poland has a decades-long tradition in the production, research and breeding of ornamental geophytes and herbaceous perennials, with modest gene resources of its own, especially geophytes, in nature. Regarding bulbs production, tulips (Tulipa), narcissus (Narcissus), lilies (Lilium) and gladioli (Gladiolus) are the most important crops. However, the total area devoted to ornamental geophytes, estimated at 1,200 ha in 2010, is on a downward trend. The total area for all ornamental crops in the ground including geophytes, but excluding tree and shrub nursery production also records a slight decrease from 3,833 ha in 2011 to 3,801 ha in 2022. Despite the decrease in the area of bulb reproduction, the acreage occupied by forcing geophytes for cut flowers has increased in Poland. Currently, it is estimated that tulips for cut flowers are grown on an area of 5 5 ha, which allows us to speak of a production volume of approximately 180 million stems per year. Small farms still grow tulips in traditional peat substrates in boxes or even in beds, but large farms have changed to the modern and automated hydroponic method in recent years. In Poland, there is a growing market interest in both bulbous cut flowers and flower bulbs and perennials for planting in gardens and urban green areas. A new and rapidly growing trend is the production of visually attractive perennials in containers for seasonal sale. With the rapid development of online shopping in recent years, this distribution channel is also becoming increasingly important for bulbs and herbaceous perennials and is growing continuously. The Polish market of geophytes and perennials is dominated by cultivars from breeding companies in Western Europe (mostly Dutch for bulbous crops) and the USA. Own breeding of ornamental geophytes and herbaceous perennials is very limited. The creation of new cultivars currently concerns lilies (Lilium), daylilies (Hemerocallis), tulips (Tulipa), hipeastrum (Hippeastrum) and ornamental grasses, although in the past breeding was also carried out for dahlias (Dahlia), gladioli (Gladiolus), peonies (Paeonia), irises (Iris) and narcissus (Narcissus). Poland is the clear leader in Europe in plant propagation by in vitro method. At least five m ajor l aboratories p roduce p erennials for the European market, the USA and Japan. Vitroflora (near Bydgoszcz) is one of the European leaders in the production of starting material – rooted cuttings – including perennial cuttings obtained from its own in vitro laboratory and from mother plants. The Poland’s second largest producer of young plants of perennials is the Kock Nursery (near Rypin), produces exclusively rooted cuttings obtained from mother plants and also sends them to theWest European market. On the domestic market, novelties of perennials come through companies selling young plants. These include Polish Vitroflora and giant global organisations such as Syngenta, Florensis, Volmary, and Selecta One.

Keywords: flower bulbs, geophytes, in vitro laboratory, ornamental grasses, reproduction area 15



How can we plant more flower bulbs into the landscape?

William B. Miller (
Cornell University, Horticulture Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, Ithaca NY, USA

Most flower bulbs used in the world originate from production fields and facilities in the Netherlands. Many fewer come from production facilities in other countries, often overseen by Dutch firms. We typically divide the bulb market into two categories: forcing and landscape-“drysale”. Forcing bulbs are used by greenhouse and nursery professionals to produce cut flowers or potted plants for sale to consumers. Drysale bubs have two outlets. Some are sold directly to consumers through mail order, garden center or “big box” home stores and a large number are sold to professional landscape firms who plant them in various settings in residential, public or commercial properties. A major limitation for the drysale category is delayed gratification (effort at fall planting does not show a payoff until spring bloom) and also the work (physical labor and cost) involved. Many conversations with bulb firms over the last 25 years suggests a solution to these two issues would be revolutionary. It would be easy enough to plant pre-cooled bulbs to reduce the time from planting to flowering, and such techniques are already in the industry. To reduce labor, at least one company in the Netherlands has developed a simple machine that can plant bulbs (monocultures or species/cultivar mixtures) within existing turfgrass. The machine slices the sod, briefly lifts it and drops bulbs below the grass rootzone, finally replating the sod. Such machines can plant at least 25,000–75,000 bulbs per hour without hand labor. Rather than clumps of a few flowering bulbs, the result is expansive swaths and sweeps of color, not unlike the sense of seeing an entire field in bloom. These bulbs emerge directly through the grass, eliminating most weed problems. Such an obvious and large shift in the landscape aesthetic result of bulb planting, as well as the numbers of bulbs, involved leads to many questions about the use and performance of flower bulbs in the landscape. Unlike forcing, detailed information on landscape uses is lacking and difficult to obtain. We obtained such a machine in the fall of 2017 and have used it in a number of studies to obtain answers to questions from the industry, such as: 1) Given the bulbs are growing through turfgrass, and most landscapers want a well-manicured turf, do you need to wait until the bulb foliage totally dies back prior to mowing? Industry information would suggest “yes”. 2) How deep should they be planted? Industry information would suggest “deep”... 15–20 cm. 3) What are the best cultivars to use in this application? There is nearly no published information on this. This presentation will address these and other questions related to adapting this technology to expand the use of flower bulbs in large scale commercial, municipal and private landscapes. In most cases, our results are contrary to long-standing industry practice.


Keywords: ecosystem services, human health, perennialization

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