University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension
University of Vermont
year the National Garden Bureau (www.ngb.org) chooses a flower to
2013 being the Year of the Gerbera.
Gerbera daisies have large daisy flowers, in a wide range of bright
colors. Perhaps known more as a cut flower,
or indoor potted plant, you often can find or grow them for the
are most often seen as cut flowers, being the fifth most popular,
bright versions of all the rainbow colors.
The single flower heads, on long leafless stems, are often 3 to 5
wide, and most often single or semi-double.
To get up to 10-days of vase life from them, when you get them home,
recut at an angle with a sharp knife or scissors, one to two inches
stem base. Do this under water, or
running water, so air won’t block the stem water vessels.
stems in lukewarm water, containing preservative. You can buy this
at floral shops, or it may
come in packets with the flowers. If you
don’t have this, use a drop of bleach in a bucket of water, which
harmful bacteria that clog the flower stems.
stems every 2 or 3 days, and place in fresh water as above to
prevent bacteria. Place flowers in a bright area, but not
direct sun. They last best if kept cool
(55 to 75 degrees F). Keep them away from fruits and
vegetables, as many of these give off ethylene gas which
causes flowers to die.
the other hand, if buying a gerbera daisy in a pot for indoors,
you’ll want to
as much light as possible. Keep cool, or at least below 75 degrees
possible. Fertilize while in
bloom with the product of your
choice, according to label directions.
daisies can be started from seeds, requiring about 4 to 5 months
from sowing to
bloom. So you’ll need to start these indoors
about 10 to 12 weeks before planting outside.
They are quite sensitive to drying out while germinating, so make
the medium is kept moist, as with a plastic dome or plastic wrap
over a flat
until you see the first growth.
gardeners often buy gerberas for planting outside in spring, already
and in bloom. Look for ones with some
flowers open and the most stems, plenty of leaves, and good leaf
color. Treat gerbera daisies outdoors as annuals, in
all but the warmest parts of the country such as the southern Gulf
the base of the plant slightly raised, and in a well-drained soil
mix if in pots). In the north, they
really need full sun to bloom best. Soil
kits from local garden stores or your state Extension offices give
on soil acidity or pH, and how to change it if needed prior to
planting. Yellowing of upper leaves, or black areas and
spots on lower leaves, may indicate improper pH (too high, or low,
addition to proper pH (5.5 to 6.5), they need plenty of fertility.
If using a liquid organic fertilizer, you may
fertilize at each watering, and incorporate a balanced fertilizer
plant nutrients) into the bed. Or you
can use a low rate of incorporated slow-release synthetic
fertilize with a liquid product every couple of weeks.
need somewhat consistent moisture. If
allowed to get too dry, they may then not
recover from wilting, or may get
root rots when watered. If plants wilt,
and the soil is wet already, they may have root roots. Dig and
check the roots, which should be
black mushy roots.
ground, you’ll want to plant in areas with good air movement, and
sufficient spacing for such—12 to 15 inches apart. Otherwise,
leaves may remain wet and get
diseases. This is a reason you’ll want to
water plants in the morning, so leaves can dry during the day and
not go into
the night wet. If plants do get powdery
mildew—a whitish growth on leaf surfaces—there are organic and
you can find at garden stores.
the several insect pests that you may see on gerbera, aphids are
main one. Many pests have natural
predators such as ladybugs, spiders, and green lacewings. Or if
pests are getting thick, try a
relatively benign insecticidal soap spray.
the cut flower gerberas with stems of 12 to 20 inches, the garden
(cultivated varieties) are often no more than a foot high and wide.
They are great along walks, in raised beds,
fronts of borders, or in containers. In
the latter, plant with one of the dainty fine-flowered white spurges
‘Diamond Frost’, or the trailing ‘Silver Falls’ (Dicondra),
or asparagus fern.
Here and in the garden, you’ll want to pair with flowers such as the
bacopa (Sutera), Axilflower (Mecardonia), or fan
flower (Scaevola) that don’t detract from the
plant was named after a German botanist of the 1700’s, Traugott
Gerber. Of the
30 or so species of gerbera, the ones we grow today are likely from
particular (Gerbera jamesonii, G.
viridifolia). These plants come
originally from South Africa. It was a
Scottish gold mine businessman and amateur botanist, Robert Jameson,
plants from the Transvaal area (near Barberton) to the Durban
Gardens. In 1888 they were sent to Kew
Gardens in England, with a species then named after Jameson. It’s
this geographic origin that gives the
other names to gerbera of Barberton or Transvaal daisy.