If you need reminding of the great advances in the breeding of flowers, then look no further that the popular gerbera.
Last week while visiting a wholesale nursery at Legana, I was shown the latest colours and patterns in a range of new release gerberas and was blown away.
The depth of their bold colours and the softness of the pastels are amazing.
Deep reds, glowing yellows, pinks, salmon, white and orange in various shades plus combinations of these colours formed a feast for the eyes.
The large flowers are supported on long, thick single stems, and come in single, double and semi-double forms.
Added to this is the toughness, or gardener-friendly ability, of these latest cultivars – a vast improvement on the disease-prone old ones of the 1970s and 80s.
Gerberas belong to the daisy family of Asteracea and were discovered by Robert Jameson in 1884 while travelling in South Africa and are named after the German naturalist Traugott Gerber.
Many gardeners were put off growing gerberas because of their disagreeing nature, but these latest beauties are a world away from their predecessors in this regard.
Plant gerberas with the crown slightly above the soil level and spread the roots out.
A raised bed, about 30cms above the ground, to assist drainage is a must.
The soil needs to be of an open loam to allow oxygen to reach the roots.
The preferred aspect is an easterly or north-easterly one protected from strong winds and severe frosts, and compost dug into the bed, along with a flower fertiliser, will keep them flowering longer.
Gerberas are susceptible to crown rot so it’s very important to water in the morning so the leaves can dry during the day.
It’s worth taking the extra trouble to lift the leaves and water each plant individually around the base.
Keep the soil moist but not wet.
Potted gerberas need the pot to be at least 30cms and no smaller.
If the pot comes with a saucer, throw it away because saucers fill up with water and the plant becomes waterlogged and dies.
A larger pot keeps the plant’s root system at a more consistent temperature than a smaller pot.
Apply a slow release fertiliser plus a fortnightly foliar feed using a soluble fertiliser that is not too high in nitrogen. One suited to tomatoes would be perfect.
Gerberas grow well in Tasmanian gardens because of our climate with temperatures ranging between 10 and 25 degree Celsius.
Our cool nights promote flowering. In fact, given the ideal conditions, your gerberas should flower for up to nine months.