PLANT PROFILE: Extending the daisy chain

Hender, Tony
January 2003
Garden;Jan2003, Vol. 128 Issue 1, p36
Modern gerberas (daisies), widely cultivated today, are known as Gerbera jamesonii hybrids created from crosses of G. jamesonii and G. viridifolia which grow wild in South Africa. The original strains of gerbera were grown exclusively from seed. But great advances have been made over the past 25 years in breeding gerberas as cut flowers. Breeders such as Florist de Kwakel and Schreurs, have produced excellent cultivars for the cut-flower market. Flower quality, stem length, flower productivity per plant, a wide colour range and long vase life are the breeding criteria for cut-flower cultivars. The second area that breeding companies have concentrated on is the development of dwarf cultivars for the pot-plant market. The main breeding criteria for the pot types are: uniformity of plant habit, good compact foliage, uniformity of flowering between colours, four to six stems in flower at the marketing stage, good shelf life in retail stores and continuity of flowering. The 'Festival' series from Danish breeders Daehnfeldt has been continuously improved. The F1 hybrid 'Revolution' series from Dutch breeder Kieft was a breakthrough. Gerberas are today a highly lucrative crop. However, the characteristics that have been exploited were contained originally in the gene pool of just two unassuming species from South Africa.


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