Exogenous cytokinin induces "out of season" flowering in Protea cv. Carnival
The cytokinin concentration in the xylem sap of Protea L. cv. Carnival (Protea compacta R. Br. · Protea neriifolia R. Br.) shoots was determined at regular intervals from 11 weeks before until 10 weeks after spring budbreak. Cytokinin levels were high during the early phases of spring shoot growth. Benzyladenine (BA) at 50, 250, or 500 mg L-1 was applied to entire shoots on 22 Feb., 12 Apr., and 22 May 2001 (fall in the southern hemisphere) or only to terminal buds on 22 May 2001 at 500 mg L-1. Most of the terminal buds sprouted and initiated an inflorescence when BA application at 500 mg L-1 in May was directed only to terminal buds, whereas lower flowering percentages (0%-35%) were achieved when the entire shoot was treated. After whole shoots were treated with BA in Apr. 2001, between 5% and 45% floral reversion was observed. High flowering percentages of 87% to 93% were recorded when BA was applied at 500 mg L-1 to the terminal bud in the dormant state or up to the stage when sprouting buds reached the green point development stage. Later applications were less effective, inducing 42% to 43% inflorescence initiation. The flowering time of BA-induced inflorescences was advanced by more than 2 months compared with flowers that initiated naturally on the spring flush.