Nelson Leader : November 14th 2013
22 THE NELSON LEADER, NOVEMBER 14, 2013 GARDENING/PUZZLES Gerberas a popular cut flower G By STEVEN MCCARTHY erbera, African or Transvaal Daisy as it is sometimes known, is perhaps one of the best decorative daisy flowers. There are about 30 species which come from South America, tropical Asia and, of course, Africa. Gerberas are very popular and widely grown, either as a decorative plant in the garden or as a cut flower – they are in fact the world’s fifth most used commercially produced cut flower. Not surprisingly they are very popular with florists at the moment as they last very well in water and come in a myriad of colours and in single and double forms. Some of the modern hybrids are of very bright hues of red, orange, yellow and pink. There are also some more subtle shades available of paler salmon and apricot. In the garden when doing well gerberas put on a magnificent display of flowers mainly from November through to March, but in very mild areas they will also produce blooms in lesser quantities in the winter months. Gerberas are essentially flowers Splash of colour: The rich shades of modern Gerbera hybrids. for the milder districts as they do not survive heavy frosts. Saying this, however, our neighbours here at Woodstock, where we can get some cracking frosts, have grown gerberas successfully in east and north-facing beds under the wide eaves of their home. They (the gerberas and not our neighbours) must have a rather acid, well-drained soil which contains a considerable amount of organic material such as peat or very well-rotted compost. In heavy clay soils such as Moutere clay, the drainage will have to be improved to grow these plants successfully. In these conditions an addition of very coarse sandy gravel, compost and peat mixed well into the soil should make conditions more amenable to the requirements of gerbera plants. A site in full sun and away from strong winds ensures that your gerberas will flower more prolifically – they can produce up to 30 blooms at one time on a healthy well-established clump. Like many plants more shade will reduce the flowering. ‘‘Deadheading’’ or removing of old blooms is advised as this directs the plant’s energy to produce more fresh flowers. Gerberas require plenty of moisture during the summer growing and flowering period, but at the same time demand perfect drainage during the winter moths. In the summer let the plants dry out somewhat between waterings as too much moisture will encourage crown rot. Cold and ‘‘wet feet’’ will definitely rot the crown of the plant. They should be planted so that the crown is just level with the top of the soil, but not so high that any roots are showing and exposed to the air. Similarly, planting them too deep will encourage water to sit in the crown of the plant to its detriment. Being hungry feeders gerberas appreciate an addition of fertiliser. An application of slow release fertiliser in the spring and when the flower buds emerge and a fortnightly dose of a soluble, high potassium fertiliser is recommended. Like many perennials gerberas respond to division which rejuvenates the plant. They should be dug up and divided every third year or so. August through October is the best time for this and they can then be divided, selecting the new healthy outer crowns and rejecting the old original woody one. Although generally fairly trouble free, gerberas may occasionally need to be sprayed to repel attacks from caterpillars, red spider mite as well as other pests. Fungal leaf spot diseases can be troublesome in some areas and may also need to be controlled with an anti fungal spraying. Snails can sometimes be a problem and you may need to use snail bait to deter these pests. CROSSWORD TOP 10 YOUR STARS THE TOP 10 1. Which is New Zealand’s tallest-growing native tree, kauri, kahikatea or rimu? 2. In most advertisements for watches, what time is the watch set at? 3. In which Gilbert and Sullivan operetta does Pooh-Bah appear? 4. Which New Zealand painter is best known for his stylised birds against landscapes? 5. What has between 300 and 450 dimples? 6. By what route can you travel from Collingwood to Karamea? 7. What bugle call is sounded at military funerals? 8. The queen was eating bread and honey in which nursery rhyme? 9. Who in Shakespeare was the “Moor of Venice”? 10. Who had a 1981-82 hit with their song “Don’t You Want Me?”? SUDOKU NZ CROSSWORD 1. Kahikatea, 2. 10:10, 3. The Mikado, 4. Don Binney, 5. A golf ball, 6. Heaphy Track, 7. Last Post, 8. Sing a Song of Sixpence, 9. Othello, 10. Human League.
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