|See more photos from this morning’s
evaluation of Lois on Flickr.
It’s the question on everyone’s mind! And as you might be aware, Lois has still not opened. So, Soni Holliday, the greenhouse manager and I will be trying a few horticultural tricks that we have had up our sleeves to nudge Lois along on her path to opening.
Lois is indigenous to the rainforests of Sumatra, where the climate is very hot and humid. The average temperature where Lois is kept has been between 81 and 89, which is plenty hot, but in an attempt to speed up the blooming process we have increased the heat by adding sheets of plastic to the doors to keep the air very stagnant. We have also been misting Lois and all of the plants around her to increase the humidity in the air.
Another trick we have pulled out of our bag is ethylene. Ethylene is one of the five classes of natural plant hormones, and is the hormone that causes fruits to ripen, and blooms to open in all plants. We have added ethylene gas by making a small incision in the back of the spathe, which is a common procedure when pollinating corpse flowers, and taping on a bag filled with over ripe bananas, and apples. The incision itself causes a slight increase in ethylene production, and as the fruits rot they put out ethylene in gas form, which is being channeled into the interior of the inflorescence.
We decided not to pollinate Lois due to the fact it might cause her to close briefly after pollination, but in hindsight, that decision may have led to her taking longer to open.
The incision has a secondary purpose as well: we wanted to take a look at the male and female flowers inside the spathe and see what stage they were in to give us an idea as to why Lois is taking so long to open. And after a visual inspection, everything looks great (see photo at the bottom of this post).
Many people have been concerned with the fact that she is getting light in the evening, and thinking that is causing her to take longer to bloom. As you can see from this video from Kew Gardens, the experts on Amorphophallus blooming, lights do not seem to have any effect on the bloom opening. But in an attempt to try everything possible we will be giving her a dark period tonight, so we will be closed tonight from midnight to 9am tomorrow morning.
Keep checking back with the blog and the live Lois cam, to see how these modifications have speed up the blooming process.
|When we opened up Lois’ spathe, this is what we
could see – very healthy!
More on Flickr.