This Week's Podcast: A Replay: Discoveries Under Glass with Alan Petravich
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Our guest this week is Alan Petravich. He is a research specialist at the world famous Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA, where he has been for 13 years. In addition to growing plants to test from all over the world, his work deals with tissue culture – growing plants from tiny bits of meristem – cells of new growth — in nutrient gel in test tubes in sterile laboratory conditions.
He has worked with culturing Chrysanthemum and Sarracenia and done breeding of Verbascum, Kalanchoe, Clivia and Canna.
There is a virus infecting many of the canna plants in our gardens and those for sale. Alan, who has a Masters of Science in Ornamental Horticulture from Penn State, tells us that one way to defeat the virus is to grow new plants from the uninfected meristem tissue.
Alan also talks about programs at Longwood that include finding new plants to force into bloom for some of the remarkable winter displays under glass. The busiest time for visiting Longwood is between Christmas and March, and the exuberant conservatory displays are the big attraction. One plant that Alan has grown is Echium wilpretii from seeds collected in the Canary Islands (above).
Alan’s personal passion is the genus Clivia, and he mentions a couple of selections developed at Longwood (Clivia ‘Fireworks’, left). Not only does he breed new varieties of the winter-blooming plants, Alan has also become the president of the North American Clivia Society.
So, why don’t my Clivia plants bloom? Alan tells me how to do it!