Cultural Practices

Gerbera Growing Tips

Gerbera daisies are prone to several problems that can be prevented by following these cultural practices and monitoring carefully for pests.  

Transplant plugs at or slightly higher than the soil line of the plug; If soil covers the plant’s crown, it will inhibit proper growth and make the crop very uneven in flowering.

Water plants thoroughly and allow the growing mix to dry slightly between waterings. Overwatering gerbera often leads to damaged roots and increases the likelihood of crown and root rot pathogens.

Controlled Release Fertilizers (CRF)

High soluble salts and injured roots have been occurring as a result of improper use of controlled release fertilizers. Controlled release fertilizers, when used properly work well, especially in mixed planters and hanging baskets and for heavy feeders such as petunias. Some growers successfully use a half rate of controlled release fertilizer to supplement their liquid feed program for these crops. However, using too much (not measuring accurately), or not distributing it properly when using it as a top dress can cause problems. Examples of common problems:

Controlled Release Fertilizers (CRF)

High soluble salts and injured roots have been occurring as a result of improper use of controlled release fertilizers. Controlled release fertilizers, when used properly work well, especially in mixed planters and hanging baskets and for heavy feeders such as petunias. Some growers successfully use a half rate of controlled release fertilizer to supplement their liquid feed program for these crops. However, using too much (not measuring accurately), or not distributing it properly when using it as a top dress can cause problems. Examples of common problems:

Flowable Lime and Potassium Bicarbonate

Flowable lime is being used by growers to raise media pH for some crops such as geraniums and marigolds. A question was asked this week about using potassium bicarbonate rather than flowable lime. Can either be used? Both products are commercially available. The answer is in the fact sheet, "Iron Out" by Paul Fisher, University of New Hampshire (UNH) and William Argo, Blackmore Co. According to UNH research, both materials are highly effective for quickly raising media-pH on crops after planting.

Garden Mums

Growers have been getting in rooted mum cuttings this week and planting in the 90 plus heat. Avoid water and other stresses on newly planted mums - giving them enough water and feed per care directions. Problems that we've seen over the years include crown buds on cuttings, premature budding and flowering, short plants, burned roots, high salts, lack of nutrients and several diseases. For a fact sheet that addresses these issues see:

Overwintering Containerized Perennials

The key to overwintering containerized perennials is to maintain even temperature, keeping the plants cold and alive but not actively growing. When plants are allowed to freeze and then thaw, there is a greater risk for plant loss.

With the onset of cold weather, top growth has died back on many perennials while others, such as Iberis sempervirens and Dianthus have above ground plant parts which overwinter. Prepare plants for overwintering by removing dead and dying plant debris to prevent Botrytis infection.

Soil Testing and Disease Diagnostic Labs

With the spring growing season upon us, growers are reminded that floriculture diagnostic labs and soil test labs are available through Universities to help prevent and solve problems. Test growing media early and often to maintain proper pH and fertility. Use a diagnostic lab for early, accurate diagnosis of plant diseases. Catching problems early will prevent the misuse of pesticides, save you money and reduce crop loss. Below is a list of University laboratories in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Massachusetts

Using Soil Probes for pH and EC Measurements

Use of direct measurement soil probes is a new approach to measuring EC (electrical conductivity or soluble salts) and pH of greenhouse media. Traditionally EC and pH have been measured by collecting media from pots and packs and then analyzing the samples using the 1:2 dilution or saturated media extract methods. Soil probes, however, can be inserted directly in the growing medium for quick, accurate, on-the-spot measurements.

Algae

Over watering and compacted growing media, especially in newly planted bedding plants and hanging baskets, often leads to the buildup of algae on the surface of the growing media. Train employees on proper watering practices so that the upper surface of your media dries out between watering.

Avoid excessive fertilization, runoff and puddling water on floors, benches, and greenhouse surfaces to discourage algae growth. Proper drainage is needed so that water, especially water containing fertilizer, does not stand on the floor.

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