Culture Tips for Calceolaria rugosa Pita Petit By Bridget White

Calceolaria Pita Petit offers bold, distinctive colors onplants that perform best in cool conditions. With color offerings in the red,yellow and orange range, Pita Petit is a great fall alternative to pansies.(Look for more fall alternatives on page 54.)

This early, compact calceolaria is targeted for sales inlarge cells, 4-inch pots, larger patio containers and mixed plantings. Finishtime in a 4-inch is 10-12 weeks, with 80-90 days until first flower. Pita Petitis propagated by seed and is available from S&G Flowers, Downers Grove,Ill.

Germination

Media. Sow seed in a well-drained soilless media with a neutralpH of 5.6-6.2.

Temperature/Moisture. Maintain warm conditions of approximately 68¼F and moderate moisture levels.

Light. Light is required for germination, so plug trays should beplaced in a lighted area.

Timing. Under appropriate conditions, germination takesapproximately 8-10 days.

Transplant

Do not transplant too deep, as seedlings are susceptible tostem rot.

Media. Transplant seedlings into a well-drained soilless mediawith a neutral pH.

Temperature. Maintain temperatures on the low side, between 65-68¼F. Higher temperatures will lead to more vigorous plant growth and maynecessitate the use of plant growth regulators.

Moisture/Light. Young roots are tender at this stage, so plants should notbe allowed to dry out between waterings. Check moisture levels often, as thebright light required in this stage will quickly dry media.

Fertilization. Begin a moderate liquid fertility program of 100 ppmconstant feed or 200 ppm every other watering.

Growing On

Temperature. Maintain day temperatures of 62-80¼ F and nighttemperatures of 50-55¼ F. Temperatures below 60¼ F are required forbud initiation, but temperatures above 75¼ F will lead to thin andstretched flower stems.

Moisture. Keep plants moderately moist, not allowing the media todry between waterings.

Fertilization. Calceolaria are moderate feeders that easily show signs ofnutrient deficiencies. Continue fertility program of 100 ppm constant feed or200 ppm every other watering. Leaves will quickly yellow if fertilization ratesare too low.

Growth Regulators. If grown cool, growth regulators should not berequired. If necessary, when buds are visible, use two applications of Cycocelat 400 ppm with the second application approximately 10-14 days after thefirst.

Common Pests

Beyond stem rot at transplant, plants are not overlysusceptible to any diseases or insects. The following are the most commonlyoccurring problems.

Botrytis blight. Found on leaves, especially those near the soil surface,Botrytis blight causes tissue rot and surfaces can become covered with grayfungal growth. Increase heat and ventilate to maintain low humidity. Removedead and dying tissue from the greenhouse and apply a fungicide as necessary.

Phytophthora root and crown rot. This is characterized by darkbrown spots on crowns at the soil level and on roots. Brown spots eventuallyspread up the stem as plants wilt and die and roots are killed. Discardinfected plants and apply a fungicide as necessary.

Common Insects. Aphids, thrips and whiteflies are sometimes found on PitaPetit. Spot check for signs of infestation, use sticky cards and applyinsecticide as necessary.




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