"Sporting" and "Winterising"
Stuart Tindale addressed an email enquiry we had a few months ago about a gerbera flower that had bloomed ½ white and ½ pink. While this is unusual, it is a quite natural mutative phenomenon called “sporting” which can happen in all flowering plants. Often some petals will be striped, while others have full colour. Stuart showed a yellow gerbera he has called Xanthic which often displays red stripes in petals or sometimes one or two red petals.
“Winterising” your gerberas is important. By removing all dead leaves and reducing the foliage to about 12 healthy leaves per plant, you get good air circulation during the wetter months which reduces the likelihood of mould/mildew developing. It is a good idea to fertilise with a slow release fertiliser to help with good budding in Spring. This allows for feeding the roots over a period without the fertiliser being washed away so readily by the rain.
There are several good slow release products available, NPK Pink, Perfecta (pink) and Yarra Milla (green) are some that can be used in combination. Keep fertiliser pellets well away from the crown of the plant to avoid burning.
The use of liquid fertiliser (Polyfeed) and Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom Salts) every few weeks during drier winter weather is recommended to promote flowering. The use of a strong solution of a fish (oil) based liquid fertiliser will put a film on the leaves and may reduce mildew.
Stuart sprays with pesticides, Nimrod/Ridomil and Copper Oxychloride (spray all together), plus Rogor (Dimethoate), using Nufilm 17 sticker, allowing 4/5 hours to set on the plant. All these products must be handled with the extreme care and strictly according to the product directions.
Contribution: Stuart Tindale