Culture Report: Verbena Vanessa Series
Let’s face it. Older verbena series just did not perform. They couldn’t offer season-long color and they were plagued with mildew. That’s why we went back to the drawing board to develop a new verbena series that had superior mildew tolerance and wouldn’t cycle out of flower.
After years of extensive testing, Danziger is bringing verbena back. Two new verbena series, Vanessa and Vanessa Compact, provide color all season long with excellent mildew resistance.
“Our goal was to create clean and colorful verbena,” says Amir Zuker, Ph.D., vice president of research and development at Danziger. “This has been a 10-year process. Through extensive breeding work and testing around the globe, we now have two verbena series that show excellent mildew resistance. They also consistently push out new blooms, ensuring the plant stays in color throughout the season.”
During testing, prospective varieties were purposely exposed to mildew. Testing was conducted around the globe, exposing prospects to many different mildew strains and various environmental and growing conditions. Danziger enforced a strict zero-tolerance policy on mildew. Only those varieties that stayed clean were kept in the program. Each color in the series also was tested for bloom cycling. Only the plants that offered consistent blooms made the cut.
“The result is that both series provide great performance and plenty of retail sizzle,” says Lisa Heredia, marketing and key accounts at Danziger North America. “Vanessa adds a bold splash of color to gallons. Vanessa Compact brings big color in a smaller size. This series stays compact with minimal PGR use, providing outstanding color in quarts. Both series are stunning in hanging baskets.”
Vanessa is available in seven color options, including three bicolor options — Bicolor Purple, Bicolor Pink and Koi, a white and red bicolor. The Vanessa Compact series features 10 colors, including two bicolor varieties — Bicolor Purple and Bicolor Rose. “Growers really like all of the Vanessa bicolor options,” adds Heredia. “These varieties work very well in combos paired with other solid color verbena, petunias or calibrachoa. ‘Vanessa Bicolor Purple’ is a standout, with loads of dark- and light-colored blooms. ‘Vanessa Compact Neon Pink’ is very floriferous, providing strikingly bright color that captures attention, even from a distance.”
Here are a few growing tips for both the Vanessa and Vanessa Compact verbena series:
• The optimal pH for verbena is 5.8 to 6.4 with an EC of .80 to .90 when rooting. Optimal pH for finishing is between 1.0 and 1.2.
• Both the Vanessa and Vanessa Compact varieties were chosen specifically because they don’t bolt right after sticking or transplanting. Our research has found that both varieties are more controlled even in propagation.
• If stretching is a concern, B-Nine (daminozide) can be applied the day after sticking the URC at 2,500 ppm. This can reduce early stretching in propagation. The plant growth regulator enters through the leaves, so roots are not needed for the B-Nine to be effective.
• Verbena perform best when the soil is moderately moist. Avoid continuous saturated soil or extreme drying to severe wilt.
• Finish Vanessa and Vanessa Compact in high light conditions (4,000 foot-candles or greater). This creates the optimal environment for best plant development and flowering.
• Optimal growing temperature should range from 72° to 74° F in weeks 1 through 3. Growing temperature should drop to 65° to 68° F in weeks 4 through 12.
• Pinch verbena in the third week after sticking.
• To reach the desired control of plants for finish, spray B-Nine or B-Nine/A-Rest (ancymidol). Spraying can be done any time as needed, in the liner.
• A Bonzi (paclobutrazol) drench at 2 ppm can also be used as needed. Consult the label for proper application directions.
• Pest concerns are whitefly, leafminers and aphids.
• Primary disease concerns are Botrytis and root rot. Proper environmental conditions, including lowering humidity levels and maintaining good airflow in the greenhouse can help prevent potential disease issues. Preventative fungicide applications, done according to label directions, will also help control any problematic diseases.