How to Grow and Care for Gypsophila

How to Grow and Care for Gypsophila

Introduction

How to Grow and Care for Gypsophila

 in this article, I’m going to show you how to How to Grow and care for Gypsophila. A popular flower used as fillers in bridal bouquets and flower arrangements Gypsophila paniculata commonly termed baby’s breath belongs to the family Caryophyllaceae. Gypsophila is a genus around 100 species of herbaceous annuals or perennials sometimes evergreen, with narrow, greyish-green leaves and large sprays/inflorescence of small 3-10mm diameter flowers, with five white pink petals. Plants may grow to a height of 50-120cm and produce prolific blooms that have a long shelf life.

Cultivation

How to Grow and Care for Gypsophila

Climatic conditions

Gypsophila grows well at an altitude of 6000 ft above sea level hence they are best cultivated in the hill country. They requires a day temperature 20-25celcius and night temperature of 10-20clecius. Humidity levels are required to be maintained at 50-60% and plants should be grown under full sunlight. When grown commercially plants should be cultivated under polytunnels or protected structures to obtain high-quality blooms year around.

Growing media and planting system

They grow well in a deep, light, preferably alkaline, very well-drained soil with a pH of 7-7.5. A mixture of topsoil: compost: sand at a ratio of 2:1: ½  may be used for crop cultivation in raised beds for best results. Beds may be 120cm in width and 22.5cm in height, length of beds may be decided according to availability of land. A pathway of 45cm may be allowed between beds.

Prior to planting, the soil needs to be thoroughly tilled or loosened. Tilling to a depth of 30cm is usually adequate. Subsequently, beds are prepared and filed with the above mentioned growing mixture. Adding organic material to the soil/growing medium can improve is structure and lead to better drainage thus improving the air-water balance.

Soon after planting, mesh or netting (20×20cm) needs to be placed in beds to provide support to plants. Usually 03 layers of netting are adequate to keep plants erect. The first layer is placed 20cm above ground level respectively. Plants may be spaced at 90cm between rows and 40cm between plants. However, when commercial cultivation is done for cut flower production in small polytunnels closer spacing may be practised. In such cases beds may be 100cm in width 22.5cm height with distance between plants 30cm; and two rows of plants per bed.

During the first year of production, plants are pinched to produce uniform growth and improved plant structure. Generally, the apical portion of the shoots is removed above the 5th of 7th leaf pair of the stem. Usually 5-6 weeks after planting. Pinching is essential to suppress apical dominance and encourage the growth of side shoots which will lead the production of more flowers. Pinching is done in the morning when plants are turgid.

Irrigation

Gypsophila require 04 1/m²/day of clean water free of Chlorine and other harmful elements. Plants should be provided with overhead irrigation 2-3 times a day during the first week after planting. Subsequently from the 2nd week onwards irrigation is the best provided through drippers

Nutrition

At initial stages of growth water-soluble inorganic fertilizer mixture with N: P:K ratio of 30:10:10 may be applied at a dosage of 03g dissolved in 4L of water twice a week. Once plants are grown, a balanced fertilizer mixture of 20:20:20(pellets or crystal) may be applied once in two months. If applied in liquid form as foliar application frequency should be increased to spraying once a week. When plants start to flower a fertilizer mixture with high potassium levels may be applied in crystal or pellet form once in 3 months at 03g per plant in combination with a balanced liquid fertilizer mixture.

Plant propagation

Plants can be propagated through seeds, top cuttings, buddings and division of roots. In-vitro propagation is widely used to produce large numbers of high-quality plants for the establishment of commercial cultivations.

When vegetative propagation is done using top cuttings, cutting must be obtained from young shoots that have not produced flowers. Apical stem segments should be obtained when shoots have 6-8 leaf pairs and prior to flowering. The top portion of the school just above the 3rd leaf pair from the ground is harvested with a sharp knife and the cut end is treated with a rooting hormone. Subsequently hormone-treated cuttings are placed in a suitable rooting medium of coir dust and sand at a ratio of 1:1 or compost and sand 1:1 to ensure proper rooting as well as quicken the process, cuttings are preferably placed in a propagator to maintain optimum humidity and temperature levels.

Other cultural practices

When commercial cultivation is practised for the harvest of flowers hormonal treatments as well as artificial lighting are included in the programme. Gibberellic acid is used to enhance uniform elongation of shoots and induction of prolific flowering.

Gypsophilas required 16 hours of day length from the time of pinching till they start to flower. Generally, bulbs of 100 watt are placed 2m above from the top of the plants. In the case of hormone treatments, 2-3 applications of Gibberellic acid at 1.5g/10L are sprayed preferable early in the morning for optimum results.

Insect Pests and Diseases

Insect and diseases problems are not too common. If insect or disease problems occur, they need to be treated early with suitable agrochemicals. Most prevalent pest includes spider mites, thrips aphids, grubs caterpillars and grasshoppers

Spider mite

Spider mites are common pest affecting many different crops. Mites cause damage by sucking cell contains from leaves. Spider mites reproduce rapidly in hot weather and commonly become numerous between March-May and subsequently August-September when temperature and food suppliers are favourable, a generation can be completed in less than a week. Thus when populations are high leaf damage is seen on the underside of leaves as white marking

Spider mite infestation leads to week plants with low levels of flowering and subsequent economic loss. They may be controlled in various ways: maintaining recommended humidity levels and adequate, frequent irrigation during dry hot periods helps prevent mite infestations. Regular monitoring of crops and inspection of the underside of leaves helps early identification of infestation and control.

Sulphur  80% WP, Abemactin 18G/l EC, Neem seed water extract, Azadirachtin 10g/l EC, Hexythyazox 10% WP are useful chemicals in controlling this pest. Because most miticides do not affect eggs, a repeat application at an approximately 10 to 14-day interval is usually needed for control.

Other sucking insects

Thrips and Aphids are sucking insects that also suck the cell sap and eventually lead to week plants that are unsightly and subsequently economic loss due to low-quality flowers although they may seldom kill a plant. Imidacloprid 200g/I SL, 70% EC or Thiamethoxam 25% WG are effective in controlling them

Leafhopper/Grasshoppers cause symptoms that may appear as distorted leaves and flowers, flowers that fail to form, and/or foliar yellowing. The best method of disease management is to monitor for and control with substances such as Acephate 75% SP or Acetamiprid 20% SP are helpful when populations are high. Applications need to be done according to labelled instructions with proper safety measures in place.

Caterpillars

Caterpillars are the larval stages of several species of moths and butterflies and are pests of cut flowers. Larvae hatch from eggs laid on leaves or other plant parts and generally feed after dark. Plants may be cut off at or near the ground overnight. They also eat young leaves and flowers making large spots on the plant parts. They may be controlled by handpicking as well as eliminating weeds nearby, which may host caterpillars. Application of Chlorfluazuron 50g/l SL, Etofenprox 100g/l EC or Emamectin benzoate 5% SG is effective is controlling caterpillars.

Diseases

Flower blight and leaf spot caused by Alternaria sp. Results in brown spots on leaves and infected flowers that turn brown. Avoiding overhead irrigation and treating Chlorothalonil 500g/I SC or 75% WP, Maneb 80% WP, Mancozeb 80% Wp in severe cases is helpful in disease control.

Plants are susceptible to crown gall caused by Agrobacterium sp, and bacterial gall caused by Erwinia herbicola. Use of pathogen-free stock developed through tissue culture and avoiding wounding plants when establishing field plantings helps prevent the disease. Maintaining strict sanitation in the production programme as well as removal and safe disposal of infected plant is also essential.

Stem rot caused by Pythium sp. And Rhizoctonia solani, crown rot caused by Phytophthora parasitica as well as root rot caused by Pythium sp. Are also reported for Gypsophila. Since most of these fungi may be soil borne treating soil or growing medium with a suitable soil fumigant would be helpful. Improving drainage by planting on raised beds, avoiding either moisture-stress of plants or overwatering as well application of chemical compounds need to be applied according to labelled instructions following proper safety procedures.

Symptoms of crown rot include leaves turning light green and subsequent wilt. Entire plants may collapse and die. Crown tissue is discoloured and a soft, wet decay develops. Stems rot is generally seen at the base just near the soil line. Sunken dark lesions are seen that are dry in the early stages but later the decay becomes soft and wet. Root rot results in stunted plants with grey-green droopy leaves. When infection occurs at seedling stage or in young plantlets soft wet decay of the entire plant may be observed. Crown stem root rot can generally be prevented by following proper irrigation schedules or appropriate water management.

Harvest, Post-Harvest and Packaging

How to Grow and Care for Gypsophila

Flowers are generally harvested when 40-50% of the flowers per stem have bloomed. And need to be cut leaving one node from the ground. If not properly harvested and treated the shelf life of flowers decreases and flowers soon turn brown. Thus flower stems should be carefully cut and drawn out from the lower sides of the nest to avoid damage to the flower canopy.

Stems should be places in a clean bucket of water away from exposure to sunlight immediately after harvest. They may be then graded according to height and bunched with 5 stems per bunch. Treating flower stems with a post-harvest liquid is essential for lengthening of post-harvest vase life. Stems may be dipped in 0.15% STS for 30 minutes subsequently in a solution of 200ppm Pysan 20 and 15g/L sucrose for improved vase life of flowers.

Check out my other article: How to Grow and care for Gladiolus

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