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Grower to Grower: Your Top FAQs Answered

By Dennis Crum, Director of Growing Operations

Q: What’s one crop I should definitely be growing?

A: When I’m talking with growers, sooner or later we end up discussing their production mix, and I always ask to see if they’re growing one of my favorite crops, Sunsatia® Nemesia. If you haven’t tried this collection in the last few years, it deserves another chance. For the 2010/2011 season, Proven Winners® improved the genetics for Sunsatia Lemon, Cranberry and Coconut, and these improved varieties have noticeably better performance from start to finish. Growers will see this collection flower up early in the season and flower up heavy in combinations and containers. The improved Sunsatias also are more forgiving in the greenhouse, with much better heat and moisture tolerance. This is still a cold-tolerant crop that prefers bright light and likes to be grown on the dry side, making it an ideal crop for growing outside. The bright yellow color of Sunsatia is a standout color, even for Proven Winners, and is especially hard to pass by at retail. If this collection isn’t part of your mix, I highly recommend giving it a try.

Improved genetics have made Sunsatia® Nemesia a reliable crop with high consumer appeal.
The color of this Sunsatia Lemon exceptional.

Q: What is the key to rooting and growing a good crop of Intensia® Phlox?

A: One of our most misunderstood and underutilized collections is Intensia Phlox. But with the proper information, this crop can be finished successfully and easily. There are four key points to know when growing Intensia Phlox:

Finishing Intensia® Phlox can be easy once you know the recommended parameters for temperature, lighting, watering and feed levels.

1. Temperature. Rooting out temperatures should be around 65-72°F, but once the roots reach the edge of the pot, the crop can be cooled down. Growing on temperatures should be around 55-68°F, and these cooler temps will also help control plant growth.

2. Lighting. This crop needs the highest, brightest and most unobstructed light you have in your greenhouses. Growing under hanging baskets is not recommended.

3. Moisture. Growing Intensias on the dry side will produce the healthiest, fullest plants with the most compact habit. Water as needed to avoid severe wilting/dry down and be sure not to keep this crop wet. Proper water management will also help control plant growth.

4. Feed Levels. Intensias are heavy feeders, which can be challenging if you’re growing on the dry side and irrigations are less frequent. We recommend fertilizing with 200-300ppm fertilizer at each irrigation and monitoring soil fertilizer levels as the crop grows.

Q: Why do my Dahlias do well until they bud, then turn dull green/yellow, wilt and die?

A: This is a common question that we hear each spring right around April, and luckily, there’s a simple solution — lighting. Under short day conditions, Dahlias will begin to form tubers and become dormant. This crop needs long-day lighting through week 13 (the end of March). If you’re planting Dahlia liners before week 13, plants should be given 14-hour days by using daylength extension or night interruption lighting. This lighting can be provided by various light sources:

  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • LED (if the proper wavelength is supplied)
  • High pressure sodium

When we have winters that are cooler and cloudier than normal, this is a more common challenge for growers.

For additional information on these crops and more, please refer to the 2013 Four Star Culture Guide here.

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