Tips For Getting Your Gerberas Ready For The Show!
It will be approximately 8 weeks to the show when you receive this journal. Now is the time to step up your fertilising program. Increase the frequency of liquid feeding for the next 4 weeks and then increase again for the last 4 weeks.
Note of warning from those who know: do not increase the strength of the fertiliser solution or you run the risk of killing your plants. A weak solution more often is the way to go. Think about fertiliser as food… small meals more often for a healthy recovery.
Keep a watchful eye on gerbera foliage with the hot humid weather we are experiencing at the moment. Look for signs of mites on the backs of leaves and downy mildew on both sides. Treat mites as per the handbook. To combat mildew, space pots so the foliage doesn’t overlap. Remove spent blooms and damaged leaves to allow the sun and air to get to the center of the plant. Thinning out the leaves also allows buds to emerge and stems to grow long and straight, rather than short and twisted.
Don’t let bloom heads droop too much on hot days – they may break and not recover. You may find you need to water a couple of times a day on really hot days. Make sure if you are watering in the afternoon that the water has time to dry off the plant before nightfall – you don’t want downy mildew! Around 3.00 pm is the best time for afternoon watering.
In the hot weather Gerberas like to be damp, especially those in pots. Don’t keep them waterlogged as black pots absorb an enormous amount of heat and will eventually “cook” the roots of the plant if too wet. It is a fine balancing act!
Gerbera Specimen Blooms
It is best to pick your blooms early on the Thursday morning. This allows the blooms to open out to the best advantage for the judges on Saturday. Gerberas should be pulled rather than cut off the plant – if it doesn’t come away easily don’t rip the plant out of the pot or ground, just cut it as close to the base as possible.
You may have noticed that single gerbera blooms will open in the morning and close again at night until they are a few days old. However, double gerberas will open gradually but do not close at night. Do not pick doubles for a show until they are almost fully out because the petals may fold backwards and you will lose points. A single bloom takes approximately 2½ - 3 weeks from when it surfaces on the soil to be fully open, a double takes slightly longer at around 4 weeks.
When getting specimens ready for the show, stems need to be cut at an angle and must expose the hollow within the stem. Immediately immerse the stem in a deep container (bucket) of distilled water (rain water or cooled boiled water can be used) to allow optimum uptake of water to the head of the bloom. Leave in the bucket for several hours then transfer to other containers to make sure that the heads have plenty of space around them and petals do not get crushed. This will ensure a good specimen bloom for benching.
Note: The chemicals in tap water often send the petals of the bloom brown.
Re-cut the base of the stem at an angle when placing the blooms into the specimen tubes for the show. Some exhibitors like to cut the stem underwater so that air bubbles do not block the flow of water through the hollow stem. Always soak the foam plugs, used in the specimen containers to hold the bloom straight, in distilled water before use. Dry foam will rob the bloom of water.
CALENDAR OF ACTIVITIES FOR GERBERA GROWER
January/ February -
Hot months require attention to water, shade and mulching (away from crowns). Increase fertilising in mid-February for the April show.
Mid-March increase fertilising again for the show. Blooms may need supporting to stop them breaking off in high winds.
Keep fertilising program going right up until the show.
Check for any diseases. Additional moisture may be required if winds are drying out pots. One feed of slow release fertiliser. Be aware that gerbera leaves often act like umbrellas during rain.
June/ July -
One feed of slow release fertiliser. Spent blooms and dead leaves and excess foliage should be removed. Check moisture is adequate. Do not over-water or rot will set in.
Much the same as for June/July. Begin the 8 week fertilising program to have plants ready for the October show.
As the weather warms watch the moisture content of soil – especially pots. Mid-September step up the fertilising program for the 4 weeks prior to the show, including a liquid program in the off weeks. Watch for Thrip and Aphid.
You should have beautiful show blooms!
Time for dividing and getting plants up for the next year. Do not let divisions dry out completely and liquid feed them so they recover quickly.
Check moisture. Keep a look out for pests and diseases.
Contribution: Ray & Rhonda Bruce and Tom Polich