Crop Culture Report: Gazania New Day Series By Shravan Dasoju

It's the dawn of a new day in gazanias as recent breeding efforts have focused on developing big and bold varieties for consumers.

Gazania is a native of South Africa and is also called treasure flower. They are widely grown and admired for their daisy-like flowers that have vibrant colors, which add a unique and exotic look to any garden. Gazanias are easy to grow and easy to care for, which makes it a popular choice of amateur and professional gardeners alike. Recent efforts in gazania breeding have focused on developing and bringing "big and bold" varieties to consumers.

New Day F1 series gazania from PanAmerican Seed is bred to deliver larger flowers, shorter peduncles and beefier-looking plants. New Day is more compact and well suited for high-density pack programs, making it easier to produce for growers and also offers better presence at retail. Landscapers and consumers will appreciate this drought-tolerant series for its excellent performance in containers and baskets, as well as a garden edging or groundcover.

Currently New Day series is offered in Yellow, White, Clear Orange, Bronze Shades, Pink Shades and as a Mix.

Plug Culture

Gazania plugs can be produced in 406, 288, or similar size trays.

Stage 1 (From sowing to radicle emergence): The optimal temperature for germination is 70 to 72¡ F, and it takes about three to five days for germination. Light is not required for germination and a medium covering of coarse-grade vermiculite is recommended at sowing to help maintain moisture around the seed for better germination.

Stage 2 (From radicle emergence to cotyledon expansion): After germination, the plugs can be grown at 68 to 72¡ F day and 60 to 62¡ F night temperatures. The light levels can be up to 2,500 foot-candles. Keep the media moisture level at medium wet during this stage. Start fertilizing the crop one to two times a week with 50- 75-ppm nitrogen using a well-balanced nitrate-form fertilizer with low phosphorous, maintaining the media EC at about 0.75.

Stage 3 (From cotyledon expansion to growth of all true leaves): The temperature and light levels can be maintained same as in stage 2, but the media moisture level can be slightly reduced and also the fertilizer rate can be increased to 100- 150-ppm nitrogen. Maintain a media EC at 0.75 to 1.0 and pH at 5.8 to 6.2 for stages 3 and 4.

Stage 4 (From growth of all true leaves to toning and shipping): The temperatures can be slightly reduced to 65 to 68¡ F days and 60¡ F nights to tone the plugs for shipping. Light levels can be up to 5,000 foot-candles if these optimal temperatures can be maintained. Fertilizer and media moisture can be maintained same as in stage 3.

Plant growth regulator applications are not needed during plug production.

Growing On to Finish

New Day gazanias are well suited for producing in cell-packs, pots (such as 4- and 6-inch) and hanging basket type containers. Transplant the plugs on-time into a well-drained, disease-free, soilless media with a pH of 5.8 to 6.2. After transplant, the production temperatures can be maintained at 65 to 70¡ F days and 55 to 60¡ F nights. Light levels can be high while maintaining these optimal temperatures. Maintain optimal media moisture, i.e., not too wet or not too dry. Starting a week after transplant, fertilize the crop with 150- 200-ppm nitrogen using a well-balanced nitrate-form fertilizer with low phosphorus. Maintain the media EC at 1.5 to 2.0 and pH at 5.8 to 6.2. Plant growth regulators are generally not needed for New Days since they are bred to be naturally more compact and well branched, but if needed use foliar sprays of B-Nine (daminozide) at 3,500 ppm applied two to three weeks after transplant to tone the crop.

Pest & Disease

Check/monitor for thrips, spider mites and aphids. Also look out for damping-off during seedling production.

Garden and Landscape Information

Location: Full Sun
Spacing: 6 to 8 inches
Height: 8 to 10 inches
Spread: 6 to 8 inches

Shravan Dasoju

Shravan Dasoju is assistant product manager for PanAmerican Seed's greenhouse and field operations in Santa Paula, Calif. He can be reached at [email protected]

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