Gerbera is commonly known as Transvaal daisy or Bar berton daisy or African daisy. It is an important commercial cut flower crop. Gerbera flowers have a wide range of colours including yellow, orange, cream-white, pink, brick red, red, terracotta and various other intermediate colors. In double varieties, bicolor flowers are also available. Gerbera flower stalks are long, thin and leafy and have a long vase life.
The major producing states in India are Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamilnadu, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Gujarat.Climate
Bright sunshine accelerates the growth and quality of the flowers, however, in summer this flower needs diffused sunlight. Gerbera plants grown in locations with insufficient light will not bloom well. The optimum day and night temperature is 27C.Soil
There are two primary factors to be considered while selecting soil for Gerbera cultivation.
- The soil pH must be between 5.5 to 6.5.
- The soil salinity level does not exceed 1 ms/cm;
- For better root growth and better penetration of roots, the soil should be highly porous and well drained.
Red lateritic soils are good for Gerbera cultivation as it is having all the essential qualities that an ideal soil should have.Preparation of planting bed
In general, Gerberas are grown on raised beds to assist in easier movement and better drainage. The dimensions of the bed should be as follows:
- Bed height: 1.5 feet (45 cm)
- Bed width: 2 feet (60 cm)
- Between the beds: 1 feet (30 cm)
The beds for planting should be highly porous, well drained and airy. Gravel/sand can be added at the bottom for better drainage. Organic manure is recommended to improve soil texture and to provide nutrition gradually. The soil should be loose all the time. Organic manure and soil should be mixed thoroughly for optimum results. The soil should not be very compact after watering. The upper layer of soil and FYM should be properly mixed. While bed preparation, add Single Super Phosphate (0:16:0) @ 2.5 kg per 100 sqft for better root establishment and Magnesium Sulphate @ 0.5 kg per 100 sqft to take care of deficiency of Mg. Neem cake (@ 1 kg / m) is also added for prevention of nematode infestation.
Soil sterilization is required before gerbera plantation to manage Phytophthora infestation. There are three main soil sterilization methods available.
- Steam : Not practical for Indian conditions.
- Solar : in this method plastic sheet is covered on the soil for 6-8 weeks. The sunrise will heat the soil, and this will kill most fungus.
- Chemical : this is most advanced and useful method. Hydrogen peroxide (H) with silver is used for sterilization of soil. Use of formalin @ 7.5 - 10 lit/100sqm can also be done.
Gerbera is propagated by seed, by cuttings of side shoots and suckers.
Seeds : Seed is set if cross-pollinated. Sowing of seed may be done in almost any season. Seeds germinate in 15 to 20C within two weeks; otherwise it may take up to 30 days. Plants from seeds will bloom in the second year and produce good flowers from the third year onwards.
Vegetative : Side shoots, with some amount of heel, is utilized for. Divisions/ suckers, cuttings are also used.
Micro propagation : The plant parts used as explants for micro propagation are Shoot tips, Leaf mid-rib, Capitulum, Flower heads, Inflorescence and Buds. Murashige and Skoog (MS) media with modification is successfully used as culture media.Varieties
Important cultivars of Gerbera : Pre Intenzz, Stanza, Winter Queen, Cacharelle, Jaffa, Sangria, Diana, Thalsa, Sonsara, Paganini, Anneke, Nette, Rosetta, Gloria, Ginna, Ingrid, Pricilla, Alexias, Intense, Sunway, Zingaro, Balance and Monique.Planting
Plant should not be less than three months old. At the time of planting the tissue culture, plant should have atleast 4 to 5 leaves. Gerberas are planted on raised bed in two rows formation. Zigzag plantation system is mostly preferred. While planting 65% portion of root ball should be kept below ground and rest of the portion i.e. 35% should be kept above the ground for better air circulation in the root zones.
Ideal planting density and spacing: 8-10 plants/sqm or 30 X 30 cm or 40 x 25 cm.Fertilization
Irrigate and fertilize frequently in small quantities for optimum results. Always analyze the soil once in 2 - 3 months to decide specific nutrient schedule.
25 - 75 t/ha of well decomposed organic manure is required. For the first three months after planting, application of 20:20:20:N:P:K @ 1.5 g/l of water every two days during the vegetative stage encourages better foliage.
Once flowering commences, N:P:K 15:8:35 at the rate of 1.5 g/l water/day is to be given. Micronutrients should be given weekly or fortnightly as per the deficiency symptoms (preferably chelated source). Boron deficiency causes base of young leaves to turn black coloured. Zinc deficiency symptoms can be identified with the C-shaped leaf structure caused by chlorosis on one half of the leaf blade which ceases to expand, while the other half of the leaf is normal.Cultural practices
Weeding an raking of soil:
Weeds take the nutrients of the plants and affect the production. Hence, they should be removed from the bed. Due to daily irrigation, the surface of the gerbera bed becomes hard hence raking of soil is done with the help of a raker. It increases soil aeration in the root zone of the plant. This operation should be done regularly, may be twice in a month.
Removal of inferior quality flowers at the initial stage after plantation is called disbudding. The normal production of gerbera plants starts after 75 - 90 days from the date of plantation. Production of flowers starts 45 days after plantation but initial production is of inferior quality, hence these flowers should be removed from the base of the flowers stalk. this helps in making the plant strong and healthy.
Removal of old leaves:
Sanitation helps in keeping the disease and pest infestation below the economic threshold level. The old, dry, infested leaves should be removed from the plant and removed from the production site.Pests and diseases
Important Diseases : Root rot (Pythium irregularae, Rhizoctonia solani) ; Foot rot ( Phytophthora cryptogea) ; Sclerotium rot (Sclerotium rolfsii) ; Blight ( Botrytis cinerea) ; Powdery mildew ( Erysiphe cichoracearum, Oidium crysiphoides ) ; Leaf spots ( Phyllosticta gerberae, Alternaria spp.)
Viral disease (Cucumber mosaic virus and Tobacco rattle virus)
Insect-pests: White fly ; Red Spider Mites ; Nematodes ; Aphids ; Leaf miner ; Caterpillars
- Under protected cultivation conditions, wse of Insect-proof screens acts as physical barriers to exclude insect-pests.
- Sanitation in terms of using pest free planting materials, soil solarisation and removal of infested plant parts are key pest management practices.
- Prudent Fertilization based on balanced use of nutrients to be followed. Excess Nitrogen application to be avoided.
- For management of root knot nematode, application of carbofuran at 2 kg a.i./ha in combination with neem seed powder @ 100 g/m is effective.
- Leaf spot disease of gerbera could be controlled by treating the plants with Benomyl (0.1%) followed by Kavach (0.2%).
- Spraying of copper oxychloride (0.3%), followed by Mancozeb (0.2%) was found superior in reducing leaf spot/ blight disease in gerbera.
The first flowers may be harvested after 75 - 90 days after planting. Flowers of most of the varieties (single types) are ready to be picked when 2 - 3 whirls of stamens have entirely been developed. Some varieties are picked little riper, especially the double types. good flower has stalk length of 45-55cm, and diameter of flower is 10 - 12cm.
Skilled labours are required for harvesting of gerbera cut flowers. After harvesting the flowers should be kept in bucket containing clean water. Flowers are very delicate hence they should be carefully handled otherwise can be damaged and their quality gets deteriorated. For harvesting gerbera no secateurs are required and are done by naked hands.