Pericallis Senetti Series By Chris Berg

Suntory has earned a reputation of providing some of the most innovative genetics to our marketplace. The Senetti series of pericallis hybrids comes from their Japan breeding stations. These dynamite plants come from crossing members of the Compositae and Asteraceae families. Plants produce a plethora of large daisy-like blooms in a unique, high-voltage color spectrum of blues and violets.

Senetti loves cool, wet weather, which makes it a perfect choice for early spring sales and planting in the garden or large patio containers. The compact, mounded plants are covered in large blooms that reach up to 2_ inches wide. Plants grown under ideal situations will display as many as 200 blooms at one time. Gardeners can have confidence planting these heavy bloomers early, as Senetti will endure light frosts and night temperatures down to 32¡ F. The cool, damp weather of spring only helps initiation, ensuring a continuous blooming later into the season.

Plants can be grown and displayed in 6-inch containers, but growing in 10- to 12-inch containers will provide the most impressive show. With its unique and upscale look in the garden center and superior flower power, Senetti offers growers and retailers premium margins.

The Senetti series includes 12 varieties, including four Baby colors with mini flowers. The top-selling colors in the North American market are Magenta Bicolor, Magenta, Blue Bicolor, Violet Bicolor, Deep Blue and Blue.

Crop Scheduling & Timing

Senetti should be scheduled for delivery into garden centers January (beginning in Southern markets) through May. Target holidays for Senetti include Valentine's Day, Easter and Mother's Day. The secret to success with Senetti is cool growing temperatures, so these early holiday schedules are ideal.

The longer cooling period you give your Senetti crop, the better the overall crop quality. In 6-inch containers with one plant per pot, finish time is 12 to 14 weeks. Finish time for 10-inch premium container with three plants per pot is 14 to 16 weeks.

Temperature

Immediately after transplanting, Senetti should be grown at 68-72¡ F to root out during the first 10 to 14 days. During the next four weeks, grow plants chilled at 42-45¡ F; for the remainder of crop time, keep temperatures at 50-55¡ F.

If temperatures become an issue in the greenhouse during later crop times, use 30 percent shade cloth or sprinkle the foliage with water during the hottest hours of the day. Be sure to use only the amount of water needed and sparingly enough that plants go into the evening hours dry; this will help avoid mildew problems later on.

Light

Light levels of 4,500 foot-candles are ideal. During days of high light levels or in the autumn months during the rooting of the plants, additional shade may be needed. Shading plants during the last three weeks of production may cause the internodes to stretch.

Irrigation/Fertility

After the initial transplant, provide Senetti with a strong application of 250-ppm nitrogen with 20-10-20 during the first four weeks of production. Senetti is also a heavy iron feeder, so keep soil pH between 5.5 and 6.0 with a monthly drench of STEM from Peter's Excel for additional micronutrients.

Senetti's vigorous root system will require a lot of water on bright and warm days; this should be done with clear water only.

Three weeks prior to sale, switch to a phosphor fertilizer (10-30-20) to support flower production.

Plant Growth Regulators

Senetti are very responsive to B-Nine (daminozide), which can be used at 2,000 ppm every 14 days, depending on the crop timing. Florel (ethephon) can also be used at the rooting stage to promote lateral shoots.

Pests and Diseases

Aphids are the No. 1 pest for this crop, but spider mites and whitefly can also be present during production. Scout for thrips as flowers develop. Powdery mildew can be an issue during the cool crop production, so keep humidity levels low in the greenhouse. A preventive drench with Subdue MAXX and Cleary's every eight weeks will prevent root rot.

Chris Berg

Chris Berg is director of marketing with EuroAmerican Propagators. He can be reached at cberg@pweuro.com or (888) 323-0730.



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