Soil and Climate
Well drained sandy loam and red soils with pH of 6 - 7.5 are ideal. Well drained loamy soil, rich in organic matter, having adequate moisture holding capacity is ideal. A soil pH of 5.5-6.5 and EC less than 1 dS/cm2 is ideal. The beds should be raised to at least 30 cm height, and prepared by mixing of FYM (8-10 kg/m2) and sand (3-4 kg/m2) and added to prepared beds or beds may be prepared by mixing FYM, sand and cocopeat in 2:1:1 ratio.
Day temperature of 22-25°C and night temperature of 12-16°C is ideal for growth and flower production.
DisinfeSTATION of soil
The beds should be drenched with commercial formalin diluted to 10 times (1-2 litres/m2) and immediately covered with polyethylene film for 7-10 days. Soon after, treated beds should be watered well before planting to drain out the chemicals. Biofertilizers like Pseudomonas fluorescens (5 kg), Paecilomyces lilacinus (5 kg) and Trichoderma harzianum (5 kg) may be mixed with 1 ton of neem cake with optimum moisture. After 20 days, well mixed 250g neem cake/m2 may be applied in beds before planting as preventive measure against nematode infestation.
Gerbera planting is normally done in two seasons viz., January to March and June to August.The tissue cultured plug plants (4-5 leaves) should be planted in such a way that their crown is 2-3 cm above the soil. Planting can be done on raised beds at a spacing of 40 cm between rows and 30 cm between plants accommodating 6-7 plants/m2. After planting, relative humidity inside the polyhouse should be 70-80% or shadenet should be remain closed for 4-6 weeks to avoid desiccation of plants.
Immediately after transplanting, watering should be done using overhead sprinklers up to one month. Thereafter, gradually change to drip irrigation. Generally one dripper per plant is required. On average water requirement may be 500 to 700 ml/plant/day (4.5-6.0 litres/day/m2), depending on season, soil texture, light intensity and crop stage. Watering can be done 2-3 times in a day.
During first three months of planting apply 10:15:20 g NPK/m2 and 15:10:30g NPK/month/m2 from fourth month onwards (when flowering starts) in two splits at 15 days interval is good for establishment, better growth and increased flower production or water soluble fertilizer like NPK may be dissolved at 2 g/l and give through drip twice a week. Application of micronutrients like boron, calcium, magnesium and copper @ 0.15% once in a month is desirable for obtaining good quality flowers.
Harvesting and yield
Gerbera starts flowering in about three months after planting.Harvesting of flowers should be done when outer two rows of disc florets have fully developed or when outer row of disc florets are perpendicular to the stalk. The flowers are harvested by bending and pulling of the flower stalk. After harvesting of flowers, basal 5-6 cm portion of flower stalk should be cut using sharp knife before placing in harvesting bucket. The average yield under polyhouse is around 200 flowers/m2/year. Properly managed healthy plants provide cut flowers for 2-3 years.