Spread Happiness: Grow Gerberas
There’s something about gerberas that just makes you wanna smile when you see them. You can’t help it- they seem to be the happiest looking flowers in the world that a mere glance at these beautiful flowers can get one’s spirits soaring. It is by no coincidence that Gerbera is among the top 5 of the most widely used flowers in the world.
Gerberas come in a burst of colors rangiug from hues of yellows and oranges to reds and pinks, and some crosses in between. These beauties are not difficult to grow. In fact, you can grow them right in your own home. All they need is a little bit of sunshine and lots of love.
Gerberas may be propagated though seed propagation or transplants. However, it is not recommended to propagate them by using seeds as it takes approximately 14 to i8 weeks for seeds to grow into flowers. Gerbera growers may opt to get established, plug-grown seedlings from nurseries.
Another propagation method is through division of the crown. Gerberas produce numerous suckers, which can be split into many individual plants.
Tips when dividiug the Gerbera plant:
1. Give each sucker some roots.
2. Be as careful as you can so as to minimize any damage to the plant.
3. Cover the divided plants with a clear plastic bag to reduce moisture loss.
Cultivars for Greenhouse production
Gerberas may also be grown in greenhouses for commercial production. These cultivars come in different sizes and flower types to accommodate the many demands of the market.
Most cultivars have single or daisy-type flowers made up of one or two rows of long outer ray flowers adjoining a tight group of short disk flowers with inconspicuous petals.
An intermediary flower type has one or two rows of long outer ray flowers, with numerous rows of medium-length ray flowers, and then a tight group of short disk flowers in the center.
There is also the crested flower type which has several ray flowers that almost cover the disk flowers, but the outer rows are longer than inner rows so that the flower head is rounded.
Caring for Gerberas
There is only one most important thing to remember in growing gerberas. It is: Provide adequate sunlight.
Gerberas need approximately 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. As such, they are perfect for growing on patios and even window sills. If grown indoors, they should be provided with all the sunlight they need as fluorescent lamps are not able to provide them of their needed nutrition. Keep in mind that if gerberas do not get the sunlight they need, they do not bloom well.
However, gerberas need to be kept away from the afternoon sun as this can be harsh on the flowers. That’s why it is not advisable to grow gerberas outdoors. These beauties are most cozy when grown as potted plants under semi-shaded conditions.
The most favorable temperature for growing Gerbera Daisies is approximately 75 degrees F (24 degrees C). But 61-70 degrees F (16- 21 deg C) days, and 56-65 degrees F (13-19 degrees C) nights is also appropriate. In a greenhouse, the minimum temperature is 40 degrees F ( degrees C).
To help your gerbera bloom well, you should also make sure that the crown is kept above soil level. If the crown falls below soil level, you may end up with a lot of foliage and no bloom to show for it.
Gerberas should also be watered regularly. They thrive well in well- drained soil. It is important not to over- water the plant. The tip here is to let the soil dry out a liffle before watering them again. This is a key factor in successfully growing gerberas, especially if they are grown indoors.
Soluble fertilizer can be beneficial in growing gerberas. Water-soluble fertilizer with high phosphorus and potassium can be great aids in encouraging flowering in gerberas. To further encourage flowering, simply remove spent blooms. Flower stalks of wilted blooms should be removed at the base of the crown. Yellowing leaves should also be removed to prevent any infection to the plant.
As any crop, gerberas have their own lot of pests that they attract. The most common of which is the red spider mite. Signs of a red spider mite infestation include distorted young leaves with a puckered appearance.
When infestations have grown serious, spider webs and red dust on the underside of leaves may be visible. Infected plants should be discarded to prevent any contamination of other plants. Use of miticides is not recommended as they are severely toxic to humans. It is ideally easier to prevent infestation by misting the plants regularly to increase humidity and ward off red spider mites.
Other pests such as aphids and whiteflies can also affect gerberas. These pests suck sap from the plant and weaken the plant. These pests may be removed by using pyrethrum-based insecticides or soaps.
Like other popular cut-flowers, there seems to be an endless list of marketing possibilities for gerberas. These include farmers’ markets, contract growing, cut-your-own, restaurants, supermarkets, retail florists, wholesale florists, special events (parties, functions, weddings), and the Internet.
Farmers’ markets are venues for entry-level marketing where growers can tap possible clients and pursue business relationships. Cut-Your-Own operations are usually roadside stands or on-farm market
Contract growing simply means the grower has an existing contract with a client to deliver a specific number of produce on specified delivery dates. There are numerous outlets for marketing gerberas for contracts, including restaurants, hotels, retail and wholesale florists, event specialist companies, supermarkets, and online shops.
Source:January, MARID 2010, Carmela Abaygar