Crop Culture Report: Cineraria Jester
Cineraria Jester boasts brilliant colors on daisy-like flowers that can add vitality to indoor décor. Jester is available in a range of bicolors and softer solid colors including the new Pure Light Yellow. The small, rounded plant habit and textural leaves easily complement trendy containers and blend well into mixed centerpieces and table arrangements.
Interiorscapers may find Jester to be a great source of color for use in malls, offices and hotels.
The best news about Jester is that the probability of low input costs could make this a viable and economical option for finishing during the cool season. This cineraria series is bred to have minimal heating costs, PGR requirements and fertilizer needs.
Offer finished 4- to 6-inch pots of this cineraria beginning in late fall and on through the winter/
early spring holidays. Larger containers will be most attractive to the interiorscape trade because of their great shelf life and easy care after installation.
Germinating cineraria is relatively easy when using pelleted seed. Sow seed under shortening days. Light is necessary for germination to occur; therefore, do not provide a covering for the seed. Initially, start germination temperatures at 68-70° F. After true leaves begin to emerge, reduce temperatures to 65-68° F. Tone and finish plugs at 60-62° F. A finished 288 plug can be produced in 6-7 weeks.
Cineraria are light feeders. Feed plugs beginning in Stage 2 with 50-ppm nitrogen weekly with a calcium-based fertilizer. After true leaves are developed, increase rate to 100- to 150-ppm nitrogen.
When three or four leaves are present, transplant into the final container. Finish plants in a media that drains well. This is particularly important during the cool season when temperatures and light levels are low and media is slow to dry. Fertilize at 100- to 150-ppm nitrogen weekly with a calcium-based fertilizer.
When growing with temperatures below 45° F, select a nitrate-based feed. Under cool conditions, ammonium-based feeds may not be able to convert to nitrogen forms that plants can utilize for uptake.
Allow media to dry slightly between waterings. Alternate moisture levels between wet and moist. Do not allow plants to wilt. Irrigate early in the day to allow foliage to dry before nightfall. Provide up to 3,000 foot-candles of light. Excessive light levels will result in leaf burn.
To initiate flowering and develop larger flower heads, cineraria will benefit from a chilling period. Begin vernalization treatments after 8-10 leaves have unfurled and roots are actively growing. Reduce night temperature to 38-58° F for 4-5 weeks. In regions where there is no danger of frost, this can be accomplished in a protected outdoor cold frame or unheated hoop house. Frost will permanently disfigure leaves and kill the crop.
After the chilling period is completed, raise night temperature to 60-62° F until buds are visible. After visible bud, night temperature can be dropped further to 55-60° F to promote a more compact plant, though flowering may be delayed. You can anticipate blooms 7-9 weeks after the vernalization treatment.
Scheduling And Finishing
Grow the crop pot tight until foliage reaches the pot rim. Best quality plants and perfectly rounded mounding habits can be obtained when foliage does not touch the plant sitting next to it. For a higher quality plant, provide good air circulation and horizontal air flow to encourage evapo-transpiration. This will allow plants to uptake nutrients during overcast, cool conditions. Crowding the plants will favor a climate for disease development and irreversible stretching.
Chemical growth regulators should not be necessary on Jester. However, for toning purposes, growth can easily be controlled with B-Nine (daminozide, Chemtura Corp.), DIF, reduced watering or minimal use of ammonium.
Finish this cool-season crop throughout the winter months and early spring. Depending on seasonal night temperatures, sow Jester to take advantage of natural cooling during the vernalization treatment. Jester can be sown August-November for November-March sales. Crops can be sown earlier in some regions where temperatures dip low enough to provide vernalization when needed. Plants grown under short days are naturally compact. Lengthening days will encourage plants to bolt in late spring.
Jester will add a little spice to seasonal color assortments for fall, winter and early spring sales. Top sellers include Blue Bicolor, Crimson Bicolor and Carmine Bicolor. Contact your broker to check on seed availability.