While the society concentrates on the growing, cultivating and promotion of gerberas there are also other activities that provide some diversity to the wide range of interests of members.
MAINTENANCE & CARE OF GERBERA PLANTS
Welcome to the W.A. Gerbera Society’s website which offers relevant information to gardeners to maximise the flower production and quality of their Gerbera plants. Regardless of whether you are new to Gerbera growing or are an experienced grower, this information should prove to be of considerable assistance to you.
If you are a new grower, it is essential that you be aware that not all gerbera plants are the same. Some plants in the market place have been developed under artificial conditions and there is cloning and various genetically modified properties that affect performance. That is they are grown indoors and are not suited to the hot weather experienced in Perth usually between November and April.
On the other hand, gerbera plants available to the public through the Society or their experienced growers are always sun-hardened and cope with the Perth weather very well. In addition, the plants offered are what is called the ‘classic’ gerbera that has been around Western Australia for some time.
The way you look after your Gerbera plants will depend largely on whether they are grown in the ground or in containers of some kind.
IN GROUND CULTIVATION
Gerberas are sun loving plants, they should be grown in locations where they will receive a minimum of 6 hours sunlight each day. Gerbera plants have a relatively passive root system and do not compete strongly with other plants for the nutrients they need. For this reason, it is preferable they be grown in dedicated garden beds. They should never be grown in gardens in which conifers, palms or hibiscus are grown because all of these plants have particularly aggressive roots systems which choke gerbera roots and starve them of growth materials.
Gerberas grown in the ground do not require as much water or regular watering as those grown in containers. This is because soil does not lose its moisture content as rapidly as occurs in containers. Gerberas do not like too much water or conditions which give them “wet feet”, as this tends to rot their root systems. However, the surface soil should be kept moist and a good quality "wetness tester" will give all growers accurate readings to prevent over watering. To achieve and maintain this situation, more water may be needed during particularly hot periods of weather. When extreme temperatures are experienced, it is not uncommon for the leaves and new flower shoots of gerbera plants to show signs of stress by wilting. If this happens a light watering after sunset will ensure they recover fairly rapidly and next day will show no signs of the stress displayed the previous day.
Provided the soils in the garden bed in which Gerberas are to be grown has been improved by the application of animal manures and/or compost, additional fertilisers will need to be added only every 6 weeks. A general purpose pellet or granulated product with low nitrogen, a small amount of phosphorous and a high level of potassium (commonly referred to as N.P.K in that order) together with trace elements, is ideal. Each plant should receive a heaped teaspoon of such fertiliser sprinkled around the plant but not on the crown itself.
Mulching garden beds is good gardening practice and is essential in Perth’s hot summers. However, mulch must be kept away from the gerbera crown.
IN CONTAINER CULTIVATION
The successful growing of gerberas in containers requires more involvement on the part of the grower than in the case of in-ground cultivation.
The first essential for container growing is to choose an appropriate medium, or potting mix. A suitable mix should be light, friable and well-draining. Such a mix may not be readily available from your local garden centre and you may need to prepare your own using the components set out in the WA Gerbera Society’s handbook (ref p8).
Containers favoured by Society members are mostly 200 – 250 mm black plastic pots. Terracotta pots of similar size are also suitable, if available, but do not use concrete or other lime based products as these may cause the potting mix to become too alkaline which can inhibit the gerberas development. Gerberas grow best in a medium (or potting mix) that is slightly acidic (i.e. soil pH. is between 6 and 6.5). The Gerbera Society is presently working with a garden soil company (Good Earth in Gosnells) to produce a gerbera potting mix that will be available to the general public as well as society members at a reasonable cost.
Gerberas grown in containers, particularly black plastic pots, may become stressed more quickly than those growing in the ground because the moisture in the container evaporates more quickly than soil moisture in hot weather. As a consequence a more regular watering regime is needed. Container grown plants will require some watering on a daily basis during hot weather.
Because of the need to apply additional water to containers, nutrients contained in the growing medium are leached out of the container and are therefore no longer available to the plant’s roots system. For this reason fertiliser must be applied to the container on a more frequent basis. The same type of pellet or granulated fertiliser as mentioned for in-ground plants is suitable and the time interval should be 4 weeks between each application. The use of a fish based fertiliser also helps to reduce the risk of powdery mildew from forming on the leaves.
An important aspect of successful gerbera growing, regardless of how they are being grown, is to regularly remove dead or diseased leaves and spent flower stems. These should be taken from the crown with a twisting action between the thumb and a finger, so no plant material remains that is left to decay, as this may allow bacteria to enter the plants system and adversely affect its health.
This information is an abbreviation of detailed information available in the Society’s excellent handbook Growing Gerberas in Western Australia. This handbook is something that all gerbera growers should possess and refer to regularly to stay on top of the art of gerbera growing.
The handbook is available from the Society at any of its public presentations, such as shows or displays. The cost is $5.00 plus postage.
Please refer enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
WHERE CAN I BUY GERBERAS?
The larger selections of the classic Gerberas are usually available at our Annual Championship Show held usually in the second week of April in the South Perth Community Centre and at the WA Horticultural Council Garden Fair (see coming events for this and other presentation dates).
Several of our more experienced growers, who grow a good range of gerberas, are willing to supply the public at times outside the normal shows and WA Horticultural Council Garden Fair displays. These members can be contacted by phone for arrangements to be made for viewing these plants. Our members willing to sell to the public direct are:
BANJUP AREA -
Henry is a Life Member of WAGS with over 55 years of experience growing gerberas. Henry is always happy to share his experience.
P: (08) 9417 3139
WATERFORD / MANNING -
Stuart is an experienced grower and has been a member of WAGS for 30 years. Stuart's interest lies in pollinating and breeding to develop new varieties.
M: (08) 9450 3194
SPEARWOOD AREA -
Ken joined the WA Gerbera Society in 2018 and has a long association with gerbera growing through his father. He works alongside his sons Michael and Paul.
P: (08) 9343 2438
SPEARWOOD AREA -
Michael joined WAGS in 2018 and has a long association with gerbera growing through his grandfather. Michael is an emerging grower.
P: (08) 9343 2438
SWAN VALLEY / MIDLAND -
Tom is an experienced grower in the Sway Valley and Midland area and a long time member of the WA Gerbera Society.
M: 0401 803 675
MIRRABOOKA AREA -
Jan is an experienced grower and Floral Artist, who joined WAGS in 2006.
M: 0411 059 383
LINKS TO OTHER ORGANISATIONS
We are associated with many different community organisations who have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the cultivation of many different plants.
GERBERA RESEARCH GROUP
The Gerbera Research Group is a friendly informal forum of Gerbera lovers. Some of us are specialists, others are learners; but you can be sure we have all the knowledge and expertise you need to cultivate and manage diseases affecting gerberas.
THE WESTERN AUSTRALIAN HORTICULTURAL COUNCIL INC.
The WA Horticultural Council Inc is made up of delegates representing the majority of non-commercial horticultural bodies based in WA. In effect, the Council is the collective voice of these bodies. Membership is available to any garden club or gardening organisation.
Our primary objectives are to:
Promote, encourage and assist the development of non-commercial horticulture within the State of Western Australia, and promote, encourage and assist the formation of horticultural bodies and their affiliation with Council.
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VIDEOS & DEMONSTRATIONS
We have many different members within our organisation and others that regularly preform demonstration on different gerbera growing techniques, including floral art.