Date Last Edited: 08/24/2001
Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service
Heliconias are readily propagated by rhizome pieces. New roots must be developed if the old ones have been trimmed off for shipping. The normal practice is to leave about 8-10 inches of old pseudostem base on the cleaned, trimmed swollen rhizome base. The rhizome base is planted in a clean medium such as sand, perlite, cinders, or coarse vermiculite until roots develop. It can then be transplanted to a large container or into the field with good assurance of success.
The rhizome pieces can also be direct-planted into the field, and while not every piece will "take", this method is also practiced as a means of avoiding the extra work of transplanting rooted plants.
In most cases, a new bud emerges from the old rhizome base to develop as a new shoot. This shoot, in turn, produces roots and basal shoots establishing a clump over a period of time.
A group of plant hormones called cytokinins (CK) is known to induce bud break on many kinds of plants on both aerial and below-ground parts. Several synthetic cytokinins are available, albeit with limited registrations for uses. These include materials su ch as thiadiazuron (TDZ), benzylaminopurine (BA), and Accel (tm) (also known as PBA).
For the rhizome and pseudostem soak treatments, 400 ppm BA was used. All of the nontreated controls survived, but there was 40% mortality for the rhizome soak and 20% for the pseudostem soak treatments. The rhizome soak did not stimulate more basal bud br eak than on the controls, but the inverted pseudostem soak stimulated 2.8 breaks per piece compared to 1.8 for the controls.
In brief, it is practical to soak inverted pseudostems in a CK solution, and uptake appears to be sufficient to stimulate basal bud break. The rhizome soaks may have prevented root development as this is a known effect of cytokinins. The injection method was too cumbersome to use on a large scale and rhizome mortality was high, although surviving pieces were slightly superior to non-injected controls in terms of basal bud break.
Richard A. Criley, firstname.lastname@example.org
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