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Expanding the southern range of herbaceous peony (Paeonia lactiflora Pall.) is a meaningful and worthwhile horticultural endeavor in the Northern Hemisphere. However, high temperatures in winter seriously hinder the bud dormancy release and flowering of peony in the more southern areas of subtropical and tropical regions. Resource introduction and hybridization can contribute to creating new cultivars with high adaptability in a warmer winter climate. In this study, three representative cultivars of P. lactiflora were screened for flowering capabilities and their annual growth cycles were observed to provide information needed for hybridization. Among these three cultivars, 'Hang Baishao' is the best adapted cultivar for southern growing regions and is unique in its ability to thrive in southern areas of N 30°00'. Pollen viability of 'Hang Baishao' was 55.60% based on five measuring methods, which makes it an excellent male parent in hybridization. Hybrid plants among these three cultivars grew well, but all of their flower buds aborted. Additionally, the ability of three growth regulators that advance the flowering of 'Hang Baishao' to promote an indoor cultivation strategy for improving peony application as a potted or cut-flower plant was tested. 5-azacytidine could impact the growth of 'Hang Baishao' and induce dwarfism and small flowers but not advance the flowering time. Gibberellin A3 promoted the sprouting and growth significantly, but all plants eventually withered. Chilling at 0-4°C for four weeks and irrigation with 300 mg/L humic acid was the optimal combination used to hasten flowering and ensure flowering quality simultaneously. These results can lay the foundation for future studies on the chilling requirement trait, bud dormancy release and key functional gene exploration of herbaceous peony. Additionally, this study can also provide guidance for expanding the range of economically important plants with the winter dormancy trait to the low-latitude regions.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: PloS one
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