Keith Kridler, Texas

sunflowers and ethylene

July 4, 2008
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Categories: Daffodil Types, Growing Daffodils, Hybridizing, Seeds, Show Results, Soil, Species

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It appears that the aleopathic gas that sunflowers emit is ethylene. There is a LOT of interesting stuff on this topic and the link below actually has some information about this in regards to storing daffodil blooms! (Well it refers to the problems of the cut flower trade and their storage of these blooms.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethylene#Ethylene_as_a_plant_hormone
For every plant or plant function that ethylene is harmful to, it appears there are more plants or plant functions that this is an essential plant hormone.
The family of sunflowers is the second largest/numerous plant family in the world! Only the Orchid family has more different species than sunflowers. Zinnias, Black-eyed Susan’s and the Rudibeckias are all sunflowers. I am not sure if the whole family of these plants utilize or produce this gas. Tomatoes appear to be worse in producing this gas. With bananas being one of the top producers ESPECIALLY the peel from a banana as it is decomposing.
In regards to daffodil flower storage in refrigerators it would appear that you would want to avoid having ANY of the fruits or vegetables in the fridge that produce this gas as they ripen.
Not sure if it is popular around the world but the USA right now is being flooded with advertisements about “special green” colored vegetable bags that absorb this ethylene gas produced by fruits, thus preventing them from ripening too quickly. IF they really worked then it would appear that those who store daffodil blooms for shows might want to invest in these storage bags. It seems a lot of species of flowers wilt and lose substance when exposed to this gas while other species require it to set blooms or set earlier bloom as in pineapples.
Maybe our friends in the deep southern parts of the world could experiment by sealing up daffodil blooms in zip lock bags. Some with banana peels and others in plain air…..See which ones last the longest.
My sunflowers are planted on our property line. We keep all of our daffodils well away from the property lines as the neighbors OFTEN spray various herbicides or use pre and post emergent herbicides to beat back all the wildflowers and weed seeds that drift out and away from my property while I wait for the daffodil foliage to die down….I have not seen where the sunflowers prevent any of the common weeds from thriving. In the photos you might be able to see that there are several species of weeds even taller than the sunflowers on the better soils. Keith Kridler 120 miles due east of Dallas Fort Worth in the Post Oak Savannah area of North East Texas, Heavy Loam to clay soils PH of 5.7 We get 45 inches of average rainfall (114 CM) winter hardiness zone 8 lately.

One response to “sunflowers and ethylene”

  1. Chriss Rainey says:

    Thank you Keith for this link. It was very interesting. Especially the bottom part.
    I’ve always kept my apples away from the rest of the fruit in my kitchen thinking they were what sped up rippening, but this article suggests it is the bananas. I also liked the part about the gas causing euphoria in varying degress, depending on the concentration of the gas. And all this time, I thought we were so happy last summer in France because of all that wine we drank. And now I find out it was from all the fields of sunflowers we drove through. Who knew. (Maybe I’ll start leaving a banana peel on my bedside table for happy dreams—–such as I won a Quinn in the national show, or all my favorite bulbs multiplied like rabbits.)
    Chriss Rainey