How to Grow and Care for Gerbera

How to Grow and Care for Gerbera

How to Grow and Care for Gerbera

in this article, I’m going to show you how to Grow and Care for Gerbera. Gerbera is an important commercial flower crop grown throughout the world. It is a genus of approximately 30 species that belongs to the family Asteraceae. The domesticated cultivars are mostly a result of a cross between Gerbera jamesonii and other south African species Gerbera viridifolia. The cross is known as Gerbera hybrida it is ideal for cut flowers as well as potted plant production. Flowers come in a wide range of colours and are widely used in different types of floral arrangements. It is the fifth most used cut flower in the world.

Cultivation

How to Grow and Care for Gerbera

Climatic conditions

Plants can be grown in between 600-1200m above sea level preferably in the mid and upcountry wet and intermediate zones. While ideal day temperature is 22-27°C and night temperature is 16-21°C  higher temperature levels may be maintained at early growing stages plus RH at 80% to stimulate growth during the first few weeks after planting. The temperature can be gradually be decreased to 18-20°C during the day and 17-18°C at night after several weeks.

Gerbera prefer cool conditions and not cold frosty weather patterns. Production decreases significantly at low temperatures. Temperatures which are too high when light intensity is low should also be prevented.

Plants require full sun for vigorous growth. Plants should be under plastic or polythene tunnels. More light and higher temperatures result in faster growth and improve the quality of the flowers when combined with the correct humidity.

The optimum humidity inside the greenhouse should be 70-75% and should not exceed 90-92% since it will lead to deformity of flowers. RH may be maintained at 80% during the first week after planting in order to stimulate fast growth.

Growing Media and Planting system

Gerbera can be grown on raised beds or pots. When grown on raised beds dimensions may be: bed height 45cm, width 60cm and length according to availability of land. Pathways between beds may preferably be 30cm. planting distances are 37.5 – 45cm between rows and 30cm between plants with one bed consisting of 2 rows of plants at 6-7 plants/m²

When grown in pots pot size should confirmed to height 25-30cm and diameter 30-35cm. Black plastic bags may also be used

Various growing mixtures may be used, however, the medium should be highly porous with pH at 5.5 – 6.5 Mixtures including topsoil: compost: sand in a ratio of 1:1:1, coir dust: bunt paddy husk at 2:1 and coir dust: sand at 2:1 can be used for the cultivation of Gerberas.

Prior to the planning of gerbera, disinfection of media is necessary. Different methods of sterilization are recommended

Solarization – media should be covered with plastic for 6-8 weeks

Chemical – Basumid: 30-40gm/sqm

Gerberas generally have a crop life of 25 – 30 months and need to be divided and replanted in new beds after such time or replaced with newer plants

Irrigation

Plants need to be watered regularly with clean water free of debris

Nutrition

After planting N:P:K  1:1:1 may be applied at 0.4gm per plant every alternative day for first three month during vegetable growth. Once flowering commences N:P:K 2:1:4 may be used at 0.4gm per plant every alternative day. Micronutrient should be applied weekly or fortnightly

Propagation

Through division of suckers/clumps or crown division, seeds and micropropagation. The most common method for propagating gerberas is by seed. When propagating by seed, the new plant or hybrids may differ from the parent plant. Seeds need to be germinated within 1-2 months after the collection of seeds. They should be placed in the germination medium with the pointed end down. The germinations medium can be coir dust only or a mixture of coir dust and sand at a ratio of 1:1 seeds should not be covered since they require light for germination. They may be covered with a thin layer of sand or coir dust which will allow light through to the seeds and will retain moisture. Time from seed sowing to germination is generally 7-21 days

Propagation through division of suckers or crown division is the best method to obtain true to type plants similar to mother stocks. To propagate by crown division. The plant has to be split by the root system. The portion being split apart must have at least one bud/growing tip. Plants are being uprooted and then divided into portions with 2-3 leaves, at least one growing bud and roots. Crown division of suckers should be practised only when the plant is not in active growth. Using this method allows the grower to permanently plant the gerberas in beds immediately

Most commercial cultivars are propagated through vegetative means by multiplication through divisions of clumps as explained above: however, multiplication by this method is rather slow to be commercially visible. To meet the growing demand for planting material locally, tissue and organ culture techniques are being used as alternative methods for propagation in vitro. Most of the work has been carried out on plant regeneration by adventitious organogenesis from capitulum, shoot tip, leaf, petiole and other parts of the plant.

Diseases and Pests

Diseases

The occurrence of pest and disease incidences in this crop is very high especially when cultivated as a mono-crop under-protected houses

Root rot

Root rot may be caused by various fungi including Phytophthora, Fusarium, Pythium and Rhizoctonia. Using well-drained growing media and proper water management would prevent occurrences of root rot. Spraying or drenching with Captan 50% WP or thiocyanate-methyl 70% WP would help if the disease is identified at the initial stages

Crown rot

Limited watering at the base of plants would in most case prevent the occurrence of crown rot. Protecting plants from being drenched in heavy and continuous rains will also help in its prevention. Hence plants are preferably grown under protected houses or tunnels. Application of Thiopanet-methyl   70% WP would help in its control.

Powdery mildew

While powdery mildew, a fungus, manifests itself initially on the leaves, petals and the flower heads, with the appearance of a characteristic whitish efflorescent, floury, constituted by the abundant formation of mycelium and conidial multiplications of the fungus

The leaves become smaller, curled up and of leathery consistency. In a short period the white efflorescence turns into a purplish-brown colour. Following this the affected organs dry up and die

The flowers often to do open and necrotic spots appear on the stems

Even if the pathogen does not cause the death of the plant, if chemical control is not carried out in time, total detection of flowers  will be the result

The mildew flourishes in warm-damp conditions, but have the ability to germinate and to spread, even when the relative humidity is low

Application of sulphur 70%WP, Chlorthalonil 75% WP or Thiophanate-methyl 70% WP help in control of the disease

Botrytis blight

Symptoms may be observed as rotting of the plant base, sanitation controlled watering and fumigation/sterilization of growing medium are remedial measures to be considered

Bacteria Diseases

If bacterial rot is identified and confirmed, all infected plants need to be removed and burnt including infected plant parts

Pests

Mites are commonly found in most greenhouse cultivations. Mite incidences are high during dry hot weather conditions. Maintaining uniformly high humidity all time as well as the application of agrochemicals such as Hexyrhiazox 10% WP, Abemactin 18g/l EC, Azadiraction 10g/l EC or Sulpher 80% WP will be helpful in their control

 Thrips and whiteflies are also commonly seen in most gerbera cultivations. The whitefly has become amongst the most dangerous in greenhouses for their high reproductive capacity: finding the warm-moderate areas and in polytunnels, optimal for their development. Thrips and whiteflies may be controlled with the application of imidacloprid 200g/I SL, Thiamethoxam 25% WG or Acctamiprid 20% sp.

Leaf miners are small insects that damage or seen as silver-white markings on leaves, principal damage is caused by the larvae that big tunnels in the leaf mesophyll, also considerably reducing the plant’s photosynthesis and thus the growth and production. In cases of strong infestation, the leaf miner is also able to lay eggs inside the ligulate flowers.

Placing yellow plastic films spread with Greece or any sticky substance around or within the cultivations as well as the application of chemical sprays of Cyromazine 75% WP, Neem seed water extract, Abemactin 18g/l EC, Azadiraction 50g/l SL is helpful in controlling pest infestations

In all instances when agrochemicals are used to control diseases of pests required safety precautions need to be taken and applications done according to labelled instruction. Applications of chemicals need to be taken and applications done according to labelled instruction. Applications of chemicals need to be done in combination with other methods of control and should be reported to when disease and pest  incidences affect yield of flowers and growth of plants severely

Harvest, Post-Harvest and Packaging

How to Grow and Care for Gerbera

Gerbera flowers should be free of pests and diseases and should not be contaminated with agrochemicals. A good flower may have a stalk length of 45-65cm and flower diameter of 10-12cm

Harvesting can starts as of 06 weeks after planting. Flowers are harvested when 2-3 whorls of stamen have entirely developed. Flowers should be pulled from the plant rather than cutting. After plucking/pulling out the heel of flower stalk has to be cut angularly/slanting and immediately placed in water for 4 hours at 14-15°C stalk has. A Sodium Hypochlorite solution (7-10ml/l) can be added to the water. In some cases pre watering flowers for about 4 hours in advance with water containing a bacterial growth-inhibiting agent is also practised. Addition of 12 drops of laundry bleach to the water holding the cut flower is also helpful in increasing longevity of blooms at home for local sales

Flowers are packed dry with a cellophane cap or newspaper cap placed just below the flower and can be packed in a box with dimensions 12×30×80cm height, width and length

check out my other article:How to Grow and Care for Chrysanthemums

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