|Primulina 'First Time' created by Monte Walter/Vincent Woo|
Story # 146,
In commercial horticulture, one essential production technique that must be understood is: What is the flowering response?
What makes a particular plant flower? Day-length (or actually night length) was proven to be the trigger for Chrysanthemums and Poinsettias. Once the critical day-length is determined, then vegetative growth or flowering can be turned on or off depending on your goal.
Some plants are day-neutral which means that other factors like temperature or drought or maturity (age) lead to flowering.
Primulinas are day-neutral.
So far the only apparent flowering response is age. When the plant is vegetatively propagated from a leaf, the resulting plantlets flower when old enough. This is inexact and undependable. Uncertain flowering is the main reason Primulinas are not a commercial flowering plant.
We need to collect all the anecdotal evidence to determine what will cause flowering in the shortest possible time. We can manipulate the environment if we know what triggers the fastest flowering.
In the 70’s and 80’s, the first practical seed Geranium was developed. Through a massive breeding and selection process, seed lines were selected for earliness. But why?
Growing Geraniums from seed would eliminate the acres of costly stock plants and drive down production costs. This worked, but the equation changed when off-shore stock maintenance evolved and FedEx could bring you inexpensive cuttings overnight. High quality cutting Geraniums returned and we have superior flowering types again.
What’s this have to do with Asian Violets?
There are hundreds of Primulina species known and more are being found in South China and North Vietnam. Some of these species may flower very quickly from seed. If they can be identified and used in the gene pool, rapid flowering will be possible.
Hybrid selection will purify the flowering response and dependable flowering Asian Violets will be common.