The Gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) is a popular garden flower that originates in South Africa. Their cheerful daisy-like flowers come in a range of jewel tones including salmon, pink, orange, yellow and white. Depending on the variety the flowers can range in size from 2 to 5 inches. These impressive blooms sit on the top of tall, single stems which emerge from the plants fuzzy foliage.
Sometimes known as the Transvaal daisy, this is an easy to care for addition to any garden. It will also happily grow in a container garden on a patio or window box.
This guide will take you through everything you need to know about growing and caring for Gerbera daisy plants.
Bright and colorful, these flowers are a popular addition to any garden or windowsill container collection.
Varieties of Gerbera Daisy
There are a number of different gerbera daisy cultivars available. With a little research you will be able to find one suitable to your environment as well as the bed or container you are growing in.
Many gerbera daisy plants have been bred to enhance their color or the shape of their flower. You will find cultivars capable of producing single, double and multiple petaled flowers.
One of the most popular varieties is Gerbera Apricot. A cut flower that thrives in full sun positions, the plant produces attractive apricot flower petals with a golden center.
Coming in a range of styles and colors, gerberas offer the gardener an almost overwhelming choice. Growing a range of the plants can add interest to summer flower beds.
The large, bright orange petals of Gerbera jamesonii Transvaal are trimmed with a delicate yellow shade. These flowers are complemented by the plants bright green leaves.
Gerbera white is an easy to grow variety that reaches up to 1 foot in height. Its cream white and ivory petals surround a dark, eye catching center. As well as being a reliable bedding plant this also looks good in containers and as a cut flower.
With so many different varieties of gerbera daisy available it is best that you take some time to research the varieties to select something that will thrive in your garden.
How to Select the Best Plant
Gerberas that are a more compact shape will be sturdier. Their flower stems will also be less likely to bend or snap.
Aim to select plants with healthy foliage that is deep green in color. Remember to check the underside of the foliage for potentially harmful insects such as aphids.
More compact plants are preferred. Plants with long flower stems may bend or snap whilst in flower.
If you are able to, you should also try to check the roots of the plant. They should be white. Avoid brown or mushy roots.
How to Plant Gerbera Daisies
In USDA planting zones 9 to 11 the Gerbera daisy can be grown as a perennial. In zones 8 and lower they are best treated as an annual, unless you can shelter them from harsh winter.
Harden off plants before planting. You can begin planting out gerberas as soon as the last local frost date has passed.
These plants thrive in full sun positions. They also grow, albeit more slowly, in partial shade. If planted in overly shaded locations, the plants will become leggy. Their foliage may also be pale, and they won’t produce as many flowers.
Gerberas do best in full sun positions. A light soil, with good drainage, will help the plants to thrive even in wet conditions.
Gerbera daisy flowers prefer sandy or lighter soil types. Gardeners with heavy soil may have more success growing gerbera daisy plants in well-draining containers. This is also advisable if you are growing plants in wet or humid conditions.
Work some compost into the soil before planting. This will help the plant to establish itself as well as encouraging flower production.
When planting ensure that the crown of the gerbera is partly visible above the soil. Completely covering the crown can lead to crown rot, a common gerbera daisy problem. Allowing the soil around the crown to dry out between waterings also helps to prevent crown rot.
After planting gently firm down the soil. Plants can be mulched, just don’t cover the crown of the plant.
If planting more than one, space out the gerbera daisy plants to the recommended distance. Spacing allows air to circulate between the plants, helping to prevent disease.
Gerberas will happily grow in flower beds or containers. Planting one plant in a medium sized container will ensure it has lots of space to grow. This then promotes healthy growth.
Caring for Your Gerbera Daisy Plants
Once planted this is a refreshingly easy plant to care for.
With the proper care, these plants will flower throughout the growing season. However in warmer locations flowering may slow. This is because of the heat. Stick with the plants and they will resume their abundant flowering habit as temperatures begin to fall.
Watering and Feeding
Aim to keep the soil consistently moist. Underwatering the plants is far better than overwatering. This can lead to soggy soil and rotting roots. If you are unsure when to water, wait until the soil has started to dry out.
Harvesting your own rainwater is a great idea if you want to cut down on your water usage. The rainwater can then be re-used to keep your plants watered and happy.
Water the soil, not the foliage. Damp Gerbera daisy leaves are susceptible to powdery mildew. Watering the soil will help to avoid this, as will watering in the morning. Should the foliage get wet during watering it will be able to dry during the day. Watering in the evening means the leaves will be wet during the cold evening. These conditions are a breeding ground for disease.
Wet leaves and petals combined with cool evening temperatures is a breeding ground for diseases such as powdery mildew.
Feed the plants every fortnight during the growing season to encourage healthy growth and flowering. An all purpose or 24-8-16 fertilizer, such as the Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food, will be well suited to your plants. Alternatively, try making your own plant feed at home. You can also apply organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion or seaweed.
A water soluble fertilizer is best used. This can be easily incorporated into a watering routing.
Once the bloom is spent it can be deadheaded. Cut the stem of the spent flower off below the leaves. This will encourage more stems and flowers to emerge.
Thinning also allows more light to reach the crown. This will encourage more flower production.
In milder climates gardeners can try keeping gerberas overwinter. If you want to try this you will need to protect the roots of the plant. Mulch well around the base. Don’t mulch the crown. This can lead to it becoming damp and developing crown rot.
Plants growing in containers should be moved to a sheltered location or covered during the winter months.
Gerbera Daisies as Indoor Plants
Many people like to grow these flowers as houseplants. With the correct care they can be encouraged to flower for up to six weeks.
Gerberas are a popular house plant. Ensure they are in fresh soil in a light position. Regular watering and proper attention, will be rewarded with an abundance of colorful blooms.
Plant in containers, as you would plant in the ground. Take care not to entirely cover the crown. Place the gerberas on a sunny windowsill. Water the soil when it appears dry. Don’t overwater.
Gerbera daisy plants are commonly purchased from the garden center. However they can also be propagated by division, from cuttings, or from seed.
Gerbera daisy flowers grown from seed won’t grow true to type. The majority of gerbera daisy plants are F1 hybrids. This means most of the seeds will produce flowers the same color as the parent plant. However if you keep saving the seeds from these plants, the flowers will change colors.
Harvesting Flower Seeds
Spent flowers give way to fluffy seed heads, similar to dandelions. When the seeds are ripe cut them away from the plant and allow them to dry in a paper bag for a few days. Once the seeds have dried select the plumpest ones, these are most likely to be fertile. Viable seeds tend to look like small brooms with a hairy brush at one end and seed at the other.
The central part of the gerbera flower will, when spent, give way to fluffy seed heads. These are similar in appearance to dandelions.
Store them in an airtight container away from direct sunlight. The seeds won’t keep for long. For maximum viability sow as quickly as as possible.
Sow the seeds about 12 weeks before the last predicted frost date in your area.
Sowing and Germinating Gerbera Seeds
Sow each seed in a peat pot. These flowers dislike having their roots disturbed. Growing seeds in peat pots means that you can plant the pot into the ground. It will decompose as the plant grows.
Germination requires light. Don’t bury the seeds. Instead press them gently onto the surface of the fresh, seed-starting mix.
Keep the pots in a light location at around 72℉. Placing the seeds in a clear plastic bag will help to maintain temperature.
The soil should be kept moist during this process. Try not to overwater the seeds. This can cause them to rot and germination to fail.
Grow one seed in each pot. These flowers dislike having their roots disturbed. This can cause them to fail during transplanting. Growing in peat or paper pots that will decompose when planted in the soil negates this problem.
Depending on the viability of the seeds and the conditions, germination can take up to 30 days. Gerbera daisy seeds will bloom 18 to 24 weeks after germination.
Once the seedlings have developed at least two sets of true leaves they can be carefully transplanted into larger pots. Don’t disturb the roots during this process.
As the last frost date approaches, begin the process of hardening off the plants. Once acclimatised the gerberas can be planted into their final location.
Take a stem cutting about 8 inches in length. Remove the lower leaves and any buds or flowers. Allow the cutting to dry before placing in a peat, perlite and sandy soil mixture. Place the cuttings in a light position and water regularly.
Lifting the Crown
Older plants can be lifted. The crown can then be divided and the lower leaves removed. Replant the crowns in their new position as quickly as possible. This is best done in early spring, as the first signs of new growth emerge.
You can also remove any young basal shoots that the crown produces. These can be planted in a sandy compost mix and placed in a warm location. Care for the shoots like young seedlings. When they have developed a healthy root system the shoots can be planted into beds or borders.
Common Pests and Problems
Gerbera daisy plants may wilt if insects are targeting the plant. Gerberas can fall victim to leaf miners, caterpillars, and aphids. Applying an organic spray such as neem oil, or simply washing away the pests, will cure most infestations.
Healthy plants will have rich foliage and an abundance of flowers. Regularly check your plants for signs of infestation. Noticing and dealing with these problems early will help to prevent serious damage to your plants.
Wilting, especially if it happens quickly, can also be a sign of rot. This is caused by overwatering. If the crown or roots appear soft or mushy the plant should be discarded.
Cultivars of this flower can often fall victim to fungal disease. Older varieties are less susceptible. If the disease is caused by crown rot, sprays and treatments will be useless. The best approach is to prevent disease by planting and watering correctly. Over watering and over feeding can also cause the leaves to yellow.
Gerbera Daisy Companion Plants
Gerbera daisy plants work alongside most other flowers. They do particularly well alongside heliotrope, evolves, dichondra, daffodils, helichrysum and portulaca. They can also successfully be grown alongside dahlias, lilies, pansies, tulips, and ranunculus.
In warmer areas where these plants can be grown in perennial beds they are popularly planted alongside Purple Ice Plant (Delosperma cooperi). The differing texture of the foliage of the two plants provides a pleasing contrast. Finally, gerberas also work as part of a wider pollinator or butterfly garden planting scheme.
As well as being an attractive garden flower, gerberas are also great houseplants and cut flowers. Their distinctive blooms can form part of an eye catching floral bouquet.
An attractive addition to any garden, flower bed or container display. The Gerbera daisy is also a popular cut flower and can be used in bouquets. Easy to cultivate, gerberas will provide you with floral color throughout the growing season.