Crop Culture Report: Gomphrena 'Pink Zazzle'
This new gomphrena hybrid boasts eye-catching color and jumbo flowers along with heat tolerance and low water requirements.
I’m sure by now you’ve heard the buzz about the alluring ‘Pink Zazzle’ (gomphrena hybrid) recently introduced at the California Spring Trials. It’s an amazing breakthrough in the breeding of gomphrena that has it all — great branching, heat tolerance, low water requirement, day-length neutral with eye-catching color, jumbo-sized long-lasting flowers, both indoor and outdoor potential and, most importantly, consumer appeal. But the question still remains: how do you grow it? The good news is it’s not as complicated as one might think. In fact, it’s what many growers are looking for: a crop that requires minimal fertilizing and watering and doesn’t need growth regulators.
Perhaps before you can begin to understand what ‘Pink Zazzle’ is, you must first understand what it’s not. It’s not a quick-turn 4-inch annual bedding plant and it’s not a hardy perennial. It is a reblooming plant that thrives in warm weather and high light conditions. It should be grown as a premium garden plant or a long-lasting specialty pot crop. However you decide to incorporate ‘Pink Zazzle’ into your production plan, keep in mind that it should be positioned as a premium or specialty item with a higher price point.
Scheduling as a Specialty Pot Crop
There are multiple opportunities for this plant at retail and as we’ve all experienced, timing is everything. Consumers are programmed to shop by holiday. For the purpose of capturing those shopping opportunities and offering a product appropriate for the season, we recommend scheduling ‘Pink Zazzle’ crops to be ready at retail for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, during the month of October for Pink Days promoting breast cancer awareness and the New Year. Schedule your finish time two weeks prior to the sales window. ‘Pink Zazzle’ has long-lasting blooms and a variable bloom cycle.
Scheduling as a Premium Garden Plant
‘Pink Zazzle’ makes a superior garden plant. Schedule your spring crops to finish late spring through late summer where night temperatures are consistently above 45° F.
Potting and Timing
‘Pink Zazzle’ is supplied as a pinched 50-cell liner and is best sold at retail in a shallow 6-inch pot or larger. Finishing a shallow 6- to 8-inch pot requires one 50-cell liner and will take 10 to 12 weeks in the spring/summer or 12 to 14 weeks in the fall/winter. Finishing a 10- to 12-inch pot requires three 50-cell liners and will take 12 to 14 weeks in the spring/summer or 14 to 16 weeks in the fall/winter.
An aerated, well-draining soil will offer the best results for ‘Pink Zazzle’. pH should be kept at 6.5 to 7.0. Keep EC at 1.0 to 1.5.
A light constant feed of 75 to 100 ppm is recommended.
Once cumulative salt levels reach or exceed 1.5, leach with clear water as one of the scheduled irrigations.
‘Pink Zazzle’ should be watered on a moderate to dry schedule during production. This crop can be easily over-watered, therefore water management is extremely important. Avoid over watering especially during months with lower light levels.
Light intensity of 6,000 foot-candles or higher is recommended. During short days (weeks 46 to 13), day-length extension lighting is required to ensure 16 hours of day-length to encourage vegetative growth.
Begin the rooting out process at 65° F (night temperatures). Once roots begin to establish, maintain growing temperatures between 60 to 65° F. ‘Pink Zazzle’ may be held at 55° F. Prolonged cool temperatures below 45° F in damp conditions will cause crops to decline.
Pinching is recommended to help achieve uniform branching and flowering. Perform a soft pinch two to three weeks after transplant. If finishing in a container larger than a shallow 8-inch, repeat pinching three weeks later.
The best height control for ‘Pink Zazzle’ is accomplished with maintaining high light levels. However if lighting conditions are not ideal and additional height control is needed, B-Nine (daminozide) can be used as instructed on the product label. Other PGRs may cause plant damage.
Pest and Disease Management
For best root development use a preventative drench of Subdue and Clearys at liner planting. Avoid soggy, wet soil to prevent fungus gnats. Monitor closely for thrips and maintain preventative sprays as needed.
Tagging and Branding
EuroAmerican, the exclusive supplier of ‘Pink Zazzle’, offers it as a plant with a stand-alone brand. It is sold with a custom branded stake tag. EuroAmerican is working to develop unique point of purchase concepts including pot wraps, rack signage, bench tape and more. There is no branded container requirement and growers have the option of purchasing a pixie-type tag.