October-November: Time to divide your gerberas!
Notes on Dividing Gerberas – Barry Schoch
Tools you will need:
Pointed secateurs (for snipping)
Forefinger and thumb
Even if blooming, gerberas need dividing.
You should split at least every second year, especially if in pots.
If crowns get woody the blooms will be shorter and the plant will end up not flowering in the long term.
Dividing can be done at any time but October is the best time so that divisions are being established coming into warmer weather.
How to divide?
Remove the plant form the pot or lift out of the ground and take/shake off all the soil you can so that all the roots are exposed.
Bucket 1: Rinse off in a bucket of water.
Remove all the rubbish (old leaves and flower stalks) and trim back the old roots to 5-6 inches (12-15cm). Leave any white tipped new roots intact.
In most cases the plant divisions will come away easily with the thumb and forefinger. You don’t need to be gentle. If it is difficult, just ease the divisions apart with a sharp knife. Leave at least 6-8 roots on the new plant and leave any of the new (white) roots. Remove any of the hard crowns.
Check for any disease.
Take any new buds on the crown off or they will put all their energy into those and not producing new roots.
Bucket 2: Rinse divisions in a bucket of bleach solution (1 part bleach to 5 parts water). Leave in the bucket for about 2 mins. This will “sterilise” the plant of any diseases you can’t see.
Bucket 3: Rinse off well in a bucket of water.
Keep one or two divisions yourself and pot up the extras to sell (or give away).
Re-potting or in the ground?
Divisions can go straight in the ground or be potted on into a larger pot. It is your choice.
Gerberas do not like wet feet, so clay soils are not good for them. You need well drained soil even when planting in the ground.
If growing in the ground, you can plant more than one crown together in a clump.
The crown of plant should be just below the soil level, not too deep.
For sale: Pot into 140ml pots and in 4-6 weeks you should see roots coming through the drain holes. Make sure you have a label with the name of the gerbera on the front and your initials on the back.
Use a good potting mix (Barry recommends Good Earth).
Add a spoonful (not too much) of superphosphate in the mix to give them a good start (Barry uses a mix Nitrophoska and Yara Milla). Do not use a chicken manure base – it burns the roots.
Plants will generally re-flower in 4-6 weeks after dividing if given a good start with fertiliser. Do not over fertilise – less more often is better.
Never leave slow-release fertilisers (NPK) near the crown of the plant.
All the information you need on dividing gerbera plants can be found in the Gerbera Growing in WA handbook pp: 19-21 with pictures on p:17.