Culture Tips for Lobelia ‘Aqua’ By Matt Boyles

A new introduction to American Takii's lineup of unique plants is the Lobelia erinus 'Aqua' series, and the following will help the grower produce the best lobelia possible.

'Aqua' made its debut with four dynamic colors: Lavender, Blue with Eye, Sky Blue and Violet. Because of strong colors and relatively easy cultivation, this lobelia is quickly becoming a favorite with growers, especially for the early spring window in any market.

Successful breeding has guaranteed that you will see early and strong flowering on compact plants, even when grown under cool conditions. The Aqua series is a truly early flowering series, showing strong flowering 4-7 days faster than other early types of lobelia. Aqua's earliness also makes it easy on the pocket book because the quicker rotation time enables the grower to move more crops through a greenhouse. The growth habit and flowering of Aqua is best when the crop is grown cool. This lets the grower turn down the heat and get some relief from increased heating expenses.

GETTING STARTED

Aqua series can be started easily in many different-size plug trays, flourishing in 288- to 800-sized trays. Seed should be left uncovered to support early light requirements. Germination temperatures should be maintained between 70 and 80¡ F. Cotyledon expansion can be expected 12-16 days after sowing. Plug producers can expect a finished plug without lighting in about 5-6 weeks.

GROWING ON

Growing on temperature is best at 60¡ F. Once transplanted, growers can expect flowering plants in as little as 4 weeks' time. Bloom time average is 60-70 days from sowing. The starting soil pH should be between 5.5-5.8, and it should be well-drained and maintained moderately moist.

The average crop time from sow to finish in weeks are: green pack, 7-8 weeks; flowering packs, 10-11 weeks; pots, 11-12 weeks and baskets, 13-14 weeks.

RETAILING

Garden performance for the Aqua series is excellent. Plants are free-flowering and robust bloomers. Garden height can be 6-8 inches with a width of 10 inches. In mild areas, this series will perform well all summer long when planted in full sun. If planted in an area with hot summers, partial shade should be provided to minimize excessive heat exposure. Aqua will maintain a compact habit as long as temperatures remain mild. In warm areas, periodic shearing may be useful to help maintain a more dense habit.

Lobelia can be sold in just about any arrangement desired: packs, combination plantings, color bowls, 4-inch pots or hanging baskets. As one of the few “true blue” colored flowers, lobelia makes a great accent plant; most commonly, you will find it used as a border edge, planted 4-6 inches apart or in combination containers. The earliness and beauty of Takii's new lobelias are the draw for this new seriesÊ



Matt Boyles

Matt Boyles is flower research assistant at American Takii, Salinas, Calif. To learn more about Takii's Aqua series, call (831) 443-4901.



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