Culture: A how-to production guide.
Benary introduced its compact Celosia plumosa Glorious series, replacing the former Gloria series. Plants have better branching and larger flower plumes. The Glorious series contains four colors: Orange, Pink, Red and Yellow.
The plants can be used in specimen containers and mixed combination planters. Final garden height is 10-12 inches and width is 8-10 inches.
Use a well-drained, growing substrate with a pH of 5.5-6.0 and electrical conductivity of 0.5. Sow film-coated seed, one per plug cell into 288 trays. Do not cover seed as light is required for germination. Maintain a temperature of 70°F-77°F and relative humidity level at 90-95 percent. Stage 1 plug stage lasts seven to 14 days.
During Stage 2 (10 days) maintain a temperature of 68°F-72°F. Keep the substrate moist. Begin applying 30-50 parts per million nitrogen from a well-balanced fertilizer and maintain the electrical conductivity level at less than 0.7.
Gradually reduce the temperature during Stage 3 (seven days) to 64°F -68°F. Increase fertilization to 100 ppm nitrogen and keep electrical conductivity below 1.0. Keep the substrate moisture level even, avoiding wide fluctuations. Celosia form flower buds prematurely under short days or stress conditions (i.e., low temperatures, nutrient deficiency).
During Stage 4 (one day) lower temperature to 62°F-65°F. Continue to apply 100 ppm nitrogen and maintain an electrical conductivity of 1.0. Keep plugs actively growing to prevent premature flower initiation.
Plugs are ready to transplant three to five weeks after sowing. Maintain temperature at 60°F-65°F. Lower temperatures cause premature flowering and poor garden performance. Fertilize plants with 150-200 ppm nitrogen. Avoid high ammonium levels.
Keep light levels below 2,500 footcandles, especially in the plug stage, to avoid flower initiation before plants have reached a sufficient size. Do not pinch plants.
Plants produced in packs from 288 plugs finish in eight to 10 weeks; 4-inch pots are ready for sale in 10-11 weeks.
A-Rest and B-Nine can be used to control plant height. Follow label directions for proper rates for specific growing conditions.
Glorious celosia series: 1) ‘Glorious Orange’, 2) ‘Glorious Pink’, 3) ‘Glorious Yellow’, 4) ‘Glorious Red’.
For more: Ernst Benary of America Inc., (815) 756 4546; www.benary.com.