Calibrachoa from Syngenta – the incredible lightness of beauty
Ivan Pozdnyakov is Flowers Young Plant Key Account Manager by Syngenta Flowers Business International.
Among the physiological features of both series, it is worth mentioning extreme heat resistance and drought resistance, which makes it possible to recommend them even for urban gardening and, a neutral attitude to the length of the day.
Listing the advantages of Calibrachoa as culture, you might think here it is – the perfect plant for hanging baskets. But everything is not so simple in our imperfect world. In practice, getting a perfect pot with a cascade of flowers is not an easy task. What is the matter? Why are many people wary of plants with all these advantages? Jokingly to explain the difficulties associated with the culture of Calibrachoa can be a well-known phrase of A. S. Shishkov – “Behold the root…” (Often this phrase is mistakenly attributed to Kozma Prutkov). The complexity of growing many varieties of Calibrachoa is in the requirements of the root system.
Behold the root
It is necessary to recall their biological features to understand the specific requirements of Calibrachoa plants. Calibrachoa is a genus of perennial herbaceous and shrubby plants native to the Andes highlands. Often Calibrachoa coexist with cacti. Separately, it is worth noting the peculiarity of the soils on which these plants grow. They are represented by thin loamy cartilaginous soils with a large amount of gravel and pebbles formed during the weathering of underlying rocks. Rocks are usually represented by granites, quartz, and other igneous rocks that have a predominantly acidic composition. They contain few elements such as calcium, nitrogen and phosphorus, little organic matter, but a lot of potassium, magnesium, iron, which is leached from mica and similar minerals (plagioclase, microcline, orthoclase). Despite the lack of calcium and phosphorus, the soil is highly mineralized. The main source of water in the regions where Kalibrahoa grows is fog and rainwater, which contributes to the leaching of soluble calcium salts. The lack of alkaline and alkaline earth elements, primarily Calcium, causes a relatively high acidity of soils. The pH of the soil in the habitats of Calibrachoa can be lowered to 4.0 to 4.5. At the same time, there is no shortage of iron and magnesium, which are always present in granites and related rocks. We can say that the roots of Calibrachoa have adapted to grow in loose, well-aerated soils with a lack of calcium and a low pH. Can you imagine what happens to the roots of this plant when it gets into the "greenhouse" conditions that are more familiar to other flowers? The pH reaches 7, each portion of water carries calcium bicarbonates, a lot of nitrogen and phosphorus, and the substrate, decomposing, silts the lower part of the pot and liberally releases soluble organic matter. If the roots of Calibrachoa will survive with insufficient aeration, then a high pH, excess of calcium inevitably leads to a deficiency of iron and magnesium, and as a result, the plant often suffers from chlorosis and begins to lag in growth.
Of course, many years of breeding and hybridization have created varieties that are more tolerant of "good" conditions. But the innate asceticism of the plant still makes itself felt. And here it's time to talk about the unique characteristics of Calibrachoa genetics Syngenta. In addition to decorative characteristics and habit parameters, breeders paid special attention to the stability of the root system of Callie and Callie Double to high pH and excess calcium. This distinguishes Calibrachoa Syngenta from a competitor’s varieties. Callie and Callie Double are resistant to chlorosis and excess calcium in the substrate. That's why you can say about them, they are an incredible lightness of beauty.
Despite the relative ease of growing Calibrachoa of Syngenta genetics, it is still necessary to pay a few words to its agricultural technology. The Callie and Callie Double series are vegetative propagated varieties. Their cultivation begins even before planting the rooted cuttings in the pots. The first thing to do when you receive plants is to release them from the packaging and, if they are a little dry, immediately water them. And pour not clean water, but with fertilizers. The optimal concentration for the first watering is 1.2-1.5 MSM / cm.
These series are suitable for different sizes of containers, both for modest 1,5-liter pots, and for luxury 3-5-liter containers. For 1,5-liter containers, only one cutting are enough, for three – liter ones – 2-3, for five-liter ones-4 cuttings.
The substrate for Calibrachoa must necessarily contain perlite as a leavening agent, in a ratio with the peat substrate, not less than 1: 3 (1 part of perlite, 3 parts of the substrate). A good rule of thumb when growing Calibrachoa, and not only It, should be the use of a fertilizer free substrate. Naturally, mineral nutrition, in this case, should begin with the first watering.
Substrate рН. The substrate must have an initial pH of 5.5, but not higher than 6. At an early stage of development, Calibrachoa plants are more tolerant of overestimation of pH, but values exceeding 6 will certainly cause growth inhibition. And with prolonged exposure, it can cause chlorosis and root death.
Substrate ЕС субстрата. For many cultures, and especially for Calibrachoa, it is important to control the soluble salts in the substrate. Weekly EU measurement is the basis for a good result. If you do not know the content of soluble salts in the substrate, then you are acting blindly. The optimal salt concentration in the substrate should remain at a high level-up to 2.1 mSm/cm in a saturated extract. Extraction is performed by adding 1 part of the substrate to 1.5 parts of distilled water. EC in the drainage solution should be within 2.3-3.2 MSM/cm.
The substrate should fluctuate between moderate and wet. When the substrate is wet it has a dark brown color but does not shine. In a moderately moist state, the substrate has a gray-brown color. Overwatering is not allowed.
Water рН. Considering the natural preferences of the culture, the pH should be maintained at the level of 5.3-5.5. It can increase the pH to 5.9 of the solution if the active reaction of the substrate falls below 5.3.
Water ЕС. Plants should receive nutrition with each watering. This applies not only to Calibrachoa, but also to all the decorative cultures. The EC of the solution at the beginning should be within 1.5-1.8 mSMm/cm. As soon as the plant begins to go beyond the pot, the EC is raised to 1.7-2.5 mSm/cm. Control of fertilizing is carried out by measuring the EC in the substrate. For example, if a plant receives EC 2.1 mSm/cm with water, and when measured in the substrate, a value of 0.7 MSM/cm is obtained – this means that the plant is very active in absorbing nutrients and it is necessary to raise the concentration of fertilizers in the solution to 2.3-2.5 MSM/cm. Do not forget that for one watering, you can change the EC by no more than 0.3 mSm/cm.
It is almost impossible to offer a universal recipe for any crop for a number of reasons: it is difficult to predict the composition of water used for irrigation; the plant's need changes with its development. As a basis, you can take the concentration of nitrogen, which should be 200 ppm, but not exceed 250 ppm (approximately 200-250 mg per kilogram of solution). The ratio of nitrogen to potassium should be 1: 2.5 even at the beginning of the growing season. With the beginning of flower bud appearance, increase to 1: 3-1: 3.5. It is recommended to increase iron in chelated form by 1.5-2 times, compared to the usual concentration. Adding calcium in combination with magnesium (in the form of calcium and magnesium nitrates) in the early stages of growth may contain excessive stretching of shoots but will not lead to iron deficiency.
Calibrachoa often experiences significant temperature changes during the growing season in its homeland, but, as it turned out, the culture does not have such strict requirements for temperature as for the substrate and mineral nutrition. The daytime temperature should be maintained at 21-22 0C, and the night temperature-17-18 0C.
Calibrachoa is light-lover plant. In the production of hanging baskets, it is necessary to maintain the total daytime illumination at the level of 15-25 mmol/m2 per day. Calibrachoa, is a facultative long-day plant, the Callie and Callie Double series are neutral in relation to the length of the day. They will be happy to bloom even at 10-hour days, if only the intensity of lighting was enough.
To stimulate branching, it is recommended to pinch the shoots 1-1.5 weeks after the planting. It should be remembered that Calibrachoa, like many plants of the Solanaceae family, is susceptible to the tobacco mosaic virus, which is easily transmitted by mechanical contact/damage. Therefore, the number of pinches should be kept to a minimum, and during their execution, workers should observe quarantine measures and disinfect tools and hands.
How to prevent a stretching and stimulate a branching. As a rule, for the purpose of suppressing excessive stretching of plants, PGR are used. But the technical experts of the company Syngenta are recommended to use the controllers as little as possible. Their incorrect use is fraught with serious consequences. You can control the growth of Calibrachoa using the following methods: apply higher concentrations of fertilizers, provide plants with good lighting, regulate growth by temperature, for example, use the cold morning tactic.
I hope that after some of the secrets of Calibrachoa have been revealed, and the unique series of Callie and Callie Double have been introduced, many people will want to try the beauty that no longer requires so much sacrifice.
Find all the colors of Callie and Callie Double in the Syngenta Flowers Business International Cuttings Collection 2021-2022.