Challenges of Growing MILLION STARS® in Climates With 4 Seasons:
In the few years since Million Stars® was first introduced we have accumulated quite a lot of information on growing the variety in different geographical surroundings. We have found that growing in temperate climates with distinct seasons and hot summers presents several challenges:
- Planning the timing of flushes during the transition period between winter and spring.
- Dealing with low light intensities and low temperatures in the wintertime.
- Over-elongation of the stems during the winter growth for flowering in the spring.
- Low quality of stems during the summer - length, weight.
- Plant mortality after pruning in summer and fall.
- Lack of shoots from the base of the plants when pruning after the first flush in the fall.
- Increasing the yield of the first flush by determining pinching height.
Following is our understanding of these difficulties and suggestions for dealing with them:
1. Whether pruning is done during early winter or late winter, flowering flushes occur at similar times.
For example - plants pruned in December, January or February all tend to flower in April. (In the northern hemisphere.)
Therefore, the usual schedule of harvesting and pruning immediately thereafter do not allow staggering of the spring flushes.
We are trying to solve this in a number of ways:
a. Pruning as usual during winter, then applying Gibberelic acid (1-3 applications of 200ppm), closing the structures to maintain heat (at least from pruning to early elongation), and apply lighting.
b. Using shoots that have formed at the base of the plant during the winter flush by beginning lighting as soon as the flush is coming to an end and inducing them to elongate. It is best to apply this method to part of the growing area, and prune the rest as usual, to achieve staggering of spring flushes.
c. Leave a part of the area with shoots that emerged naturally at the base of the plant, and grow these plots without supplementary lighting until flowering.
2. Low temperatures and light intensities during the winter cause delays in flowering, and may also cause significant decreases in the number of flowers, to the extent that stems may be blind. From our experience, in cases of relatively mild winter when days are shorter than 11 hours, it can be solved by photoperiodic lighting (100-150 watt incandescent light bulbs) during the entire night until most of the buds are formed. Lighting should not be stopped when stems elongate, but should be continued almost until harvest time.
3. The winter flush is relatively long (4-4.5 months) and stems may become very tall. Support nets are not always able to support the weight and may collapse. Therefore for the winter flush that flowers in the spring, we recommend using 2 support nets, the first 20x20cm at the height of 30-40cm and an additional net of 30x30cm at the height of 60-70cm. Placing lengthwise strings alongside the beds and keeping the stems inside, as well as decreasing the distance between ladders to 2m, will give maximum support.
Of course, acceleration of growing process by heat (closing the structure in the afternoon and airing during the day), use of Gibberlin and use of lighting system will also serve to shorten the main flush.
4. During the warm summer months, the quality of the Million Stars® stems goes down, as far as length and weight are concerned. The growth period of the flush is very short - 7-8 weeks. Trials have been made to solve the quality problems by use of shading nets of 40%, frequent sprinkling and cooling down foliage and ground while forming more humid conditions. Growing without supplementary lighting during summer will improve quality since the heat and long day conditions will enable the shoots to rise gradually, and prevention of lighting will allow a slower induction thus resulting with higher quality stems.
5. Mortality during summer and fall is a common phenomenon, but there are successful solutions to the problem.
Use of shading nets of 70-80% in the area being pruned, and maintenance of slightly damp ground during and after pruning have prevented mortality almost completely.
Exposure of plants to direct sunlight during pruning or drying out of soil, as usual in other Gypsophila varieties, are almost sure to cause high digress of loss.
When growth is renewed and stems reach the height of 7-10 cm, heavy shading nets should be removed.
6. Planting during summer and harvesting in early fall (August-September) causes the plant to exhaust the potential of the stems, before new shoots and sprouts have begun to form at its base. Therefore pruning should not be done until about 2-3 weeks after the first flush, after the appearance of new shoots. Careful pruning, not too low, will help the plants.
Another solution can be first pruning plots of older plants that have flowered a number of times, in the late summer and fall, when there still is no leaf rosette at the base of the plant, and then pruning new plants during the fall and the beginning of the winter. The older plants already have shoots and new plants will be harvested during a period when sprouts appear naturally.
7. Pinching height is critical in determining the yield and quality of the stems.
New plantings during the summer months (July/August) will be pinched at the height of 12-15cm from the base of the plant. Pinching too high will yield thin stems, while low pinching will improve weight and quality of stems, but will decrease the yield.
For fall plantings (September/October), stems should be pinched at the height of 17-20cm. The plant grows at a slower rate and the quality of the stems is better, and so the plot will yield more.
Generally, we would recommend planting during the autumn months, in regions where summers are hot and daylight is 14 hours and more. Planting under hot conditions and long day lengths, harm the quality of flowers in the first flush and also in the following flowering flushes. It is essential that plants get well established in the soil and are in no hurry to flower.
We are hopeful that this information will be useful to you and we will be glad to receive any comments and/or any additional information you have regarding the cultivation of the Million stars ®, Dangypmini (P).
Danziger ‘Dan’ Flower Farm
Written by Ms. Orna Shoam (Agronomist)
|The cultural instructions presented here should be regarded as general guidelines. |
It is advised to examine the need to make adjustments when growing in different climatic conditions and agricultural practices.
Danziger-Dan Flower Farm is not responsible for any damage caused by implementation of the above recommendations.