Culture Tips for Calceolaria rugosa Pita Petit

May 9, 2003 - 09:01

Intense colors and unique flower shape make this a popular variety.

Calceolaria Pita Petit offers bold, distinctive colors on
plants that perform best in cool conditions. With color offerings in the red,
yellow and orange range, Pita Petit is a great fall alternative to pansies.
(Look for more fall alternatives on page 54.)

This early, compact calceolaria is targeted for sales in
large cells, 4-inch pots, larger patio containers and mixed plantings. Finish
time in a 4-inch is 10-12 weeks, with 80-90 days until first flower. Pita Petit
is propagated by seed and is available from S&G Flowers, Downers Grove,
Ill.

Germination

Media font-style:normal'>. Sow seed in a well-drained soilless media with a neutral
pH of 5.6-6.2.

Temperature/Moisture normal;font-style:normal'>. Maintain warm conditions of approximately 68º
F and moderate moisture levels.

Light font-style:normal'>. Light is required for germination, so plug trays should be
placed in a lighted area.

Timing font-style:normal'>. Under appropriate conditions, germination takes
approximately 8-10 days.

Transplant

Do not transplant too deep, as seedlings are susceptible to
stem rot.

Media font-style:normal'>. Transplant seedlings into a well-drained soilless media
with a neutral pH.

Temperature font-style:normal'>. Maintain temperatures on the low side, between 65-68º
F. Higher temperatures will lead to more vigorous plant growth and may
necessitate the use of plant growth regulators.

Moisture/Light font-style:normal'>. Young roots are tender at this stage, so plants should not
be allowed to dry out between waterings. Check moisture levels often, as the
bright light required in this stage will quickly dry media.

Fertilization font-style:normal'>. Begin a moderate liquid fertility program of 100 ppm
constant feed or 200 ppm every other watering.

Growing On

Temperature font-style:normal'>. Maintain day temperatures of 62-80º F and night
temperatures of 50-55º F. Temperatures below 60º F are required for
bud initiation, but temperatures above 75º F will lead to thin and
stretched flower stems.

Moisture font-style:normal'>. Keep plants moderately moist, not allowing the media to
dry between waterings.

Fertilization font-style:normal'>. Calceolaria are moderate feeders that easily show signs of
nutrient deficiencies. Continue fertility program of 100 ppm constant feed or
200 ppm every other watering. Leaves will quickly yellow if fertilization rates
are too low.

Growth Regulators normal;font-style:normal'>. If grown cool, growth regulators should not be
required. If necessary, when buds are visible, use two applications of Cycocel
at 400 ppm with the second application approximately 10-14 days after the
first.

Common Pests

Beyond stem rot at transplant, plants are not overly
susceptible to any diseases or insects. The following are the most commonly
occurring problems.

Botrytis blight font-style:normal'>. Found on leaves, especially those near the soil surface,
Botrytis blight causes tissue rot and surfaces can become covered with gray
fungal growth. Increase heat and ventilate to maintain low humidity. Remove
dead and dying tissue from the greenhouse and apply a fungicide as necessary.

Phytophthora root and crown rot style='font-weight:normal;font-style:normal'>. This is characterized by dark
brown spots on crowns at the soil level and on roots. Brown spots eventually
spread up the stem as plants wilt and die and roots are killed. Discard
infected plants and apply a fungicide as necessary.

Common Insects font-style:normal'>. Aphids, thrips and whiteflies are sometimes found on Pita
Petit. Spot check for signs of infestation, use sticky cards and apply
insecticide as necessary.

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