- Soil and pH Needs
Bellis need a fertile, moist soil and plenty of sun. Heavy clay soils will retard root growth and starve the plant of oxygen, which can lead to root diseases. Soil should be amended with fully composted organic matter prior to planting and in the case of clay soils the addition of Canadian sphagnum peat moss and well-rotted compost are good sources of organic matter that will aid in aeration. If possible, incorporate two to three inches of organic matter into the top six inches of soil. If adding organic matter, be aware that organic matter that has not been fully composted will tie up nitrogen and sulfur leading to nutrient deficiencies and poor growth. Soil pH should be between 5.5- 7.0 for optimum growth; and should be tested prior to planting but after adding any amendments. This can be done quite easily with a portable pH tester. Mix one part soil with two parts distilled water, stir well and wait thirty minutes, then follow the instructions for using the pH meter. If pH is too low, the addition of lime is warranted. However, the rate will vary depending on how much you need to raise the pH and the type of soil you are dealing with. Clay soils or those with a lot of organic material have a high buffer capacity and require more lime than sandy soils, which have a low buffering capacity. A good soil testing lab can determine the lime requirement index (LRI) of your particular soil and can recommend types and rates of lime to use. The frequency of watering will depend on the type of soil, weather conditions and the amount of mulch. Mulch will not only reduce soil water evaporation but will also reduce splashing of water onto the lower leaves, moderate soil temperatures and reduce weed competition. Water Bellis thoroughly then allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings.
Bellis are light feeders; providing moderate to high fertility levels (particularly from ammonium sources) causes them to appear lush and leafy, and will limit flower production. An application of a balanced controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) such as 10-10-10 or 14-14-14 with a 3-4 month formulation applied to the bed at planting will keep the plants well fed, depending on the amount of irrigation applied and the average daily temperature. In high pH soils (alkaline soils) additional iron or iron sulfate may be beneficial to reduce chlorosis (yellowing) of the foliage. Yellow foliage on Bellis may also be caused by a nitrogen deficiency within the plant. Both can be corrected with the proper supplemental fertilizers.
Botrytis is likely to occur once the canopy closes in and plants begin to bloom. In most cases, Botrytis can be avoided by employing proper cultural practices such as: avoiding overhead irrigation, improper plant spacing, poor air circulation, and watering too late in the day. Botrytis can be identified on the foliage; those near the soil surface will rot and become covered with gray fungal growth.
Occasionally, aphids may appear and cause a minimal amount of crop injury. Aphids are tiny soft bodied insects that cluster on the growing tips of leaves and flower stems, sucking plant juices. The plants become stunted and deformed. Remember that healthy, vigorous plants are less susceptible to pest damage than unhealthy plants.
5. Tips for Success
- Bellis like cool, moist weather and grow poorly in hot dry weather.
- They are light feeders and providing too much fertilizer will reduce flower production.
- Remove weeds from the plantings that compete with Bellis for moisture, nutrients and light.