Geranium Master Idols Series By Reinoud Hagen

During the 2009 California Pack Trials, Fides introduced Master Idols, a new series of geranium with a fantastic branching habit. An excellent addition to the successful Summer Idols series, Master Idols is bred for excellent performance in warm conditions. The series' abundance of large flowers gives it a unique look, and its heat tolerance makes it perfect in the landscape.

Master Idols is a series of six vibrant colors: Red, Scarlet Red, Coral, Pink, Neon Purple and White. Like all Idols series, the branching is excellent with a natural mounding habit, so very little PGR is needed to keep its round plant shape compared to other vigorous varieties. After transplant, only one or two applications of Florel (ethephon) are needed. During Southern trials, only one application was sufficient — and the results were stunning!

Media, Watering and Fertilization

The growing mix should be well drained with sufficient moisture retention to prevent the Master Idols from daily wilting. Thoroughly moisten the growing mix with each irrigation or fertilization. Allow the growing mix to dry slightly between irrigations, but do not let them get too dry. Watering should be done in the morning.

Manage irrigation water alkalinity, fertilizer and lime additions to adjust to proper growing mix pH. The ideal pH for Master Idols is between 6.0 and 6.5 to avoid iron and manganese toxicity (lower-leaf speckling, yellowing and browning). Use 200- to 250-ppm nitrogen fertilization from a complete N-P-K water-soluble fertilizer. The majority of nitrogen should be in nitrate form. Avoid fertilizers that are high in ammonia and urea, as they encourage soft and stretched growth. Avoid fertilizers with elevated iron and manganese content, which can cause lower-leaf spots on this crop. Maintain the growing mix's EC between 2 and 2.5.

From Cutting to the Garden

Stick the cuttings immediately; storage will lead to yellow leaves. Be sure to avoid overlapping leaves of the cuttings when sticking. Use just enough mist to keep the leaves turgid. Excess mist drains nutrients out of the plug and could cause Botrytis. Ideal rooting conditions are between 68¡ F and 72¡ F for three to four weeks (two to three weeks for rooting and one more for hardening). To enhance root growth, use 100- to 150-ppm nitrogen from a nitrate-based fertilizer after roots start to appear.

Master Idols do not need to be pinched, especially when Florel is used. The same goes for height control. The Master Idols series is selected on mounding habit, uniformity and the absence of a dominant shoot. Light intensity influences the growth and flowering of the Master Idols series, so use moderate to bright light intensity. Avoid excessive overhead shading, as low light levels will delay flowering, promote stretch and create lighter green leaves.

Performance

This series is the result of the selection and tests in the hottest locations in the South, where they have been judged positively on their vigor and branching. This is the best way to be sure the consumers will be enjoying the products even during a summer in the hotter climates. Although one plant can fill out a patio pot, you also could use multiple plants to fill out a large container and create a large, round, showy product.

Planning Your Master Idols

The following table shows crop scheduling with a rooted liner; add three weeks if starting with unrooted cuttings. Pots may initially be spaced pot tight but should be spaced as needed to avoid overlapping leaves between pots.

Pot Size —- # liners —- Space —- Crop Time
Gallon ———- 1 ——- 10" x 10" — 9 to 10 weeks
10" ————– 3 ——- 18" x 18" — 10 to 12 weeks

Master Idols are a contribution to the consumer's garden, even in warmer climate zones. At retail, they paint the store with richly colored flowers.



Reinoud Hagen

Reinoud Hagen is commercial manager at Fides North America. He can be reached at r.hagen@fidesnorthamerica.com.



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