Gerber Daisy

Gerber Daisies are very popular in the garden, and as cut flowers. In fact, they are the 5th most used cut flower, behind rose, carnation, mum and tulip. With their bright colors and large flowers, they add a splash of color to any flower bed or flower arrangement. Their flowers can grow to be 5-6 inches across and come in a wide range of colors, including yellow, orange, white, pink and red. Attractive to bees, butterflies and birds, they are resistant to deer.

In warm areas, such as zones 9-11, Gerber Daisies can be treated as perennials, flowering most of the year. In Michigan, as in zones up to 8, they are an annual, blooming from mid-spring until fall. Planted in a spot with full sun, or mostly full sun, they need very little maintenance, other than to be kept evenly moist while they are blooming. I’m told that it is possible to move a potted Gerber Daisy indoors for the winter, but in several tries, I’ve never succeeded at this. That won’t stop me from trying again, I’ve got nothing to lose.

Gerbera is a genus of 40 or so ornamental plants in the family Asteraceae.  The genus was named in honor of a German naturalist, Traugott Gerber, who was a friend of Carolus Linnaeus. Linnaeus was the man who invented the system we still use to classify and name all  living things. Gerber Daisies are native to South America, Africa, and Asia. Some species also go by the names Transvaal Daisies, African Daisy, and Barberton Daisy, all of which refer to places in Africa. As with many other plants, countless cultivars are available that vary in form, including double, crested double, quilled and cushion. They are also classified by size, miniature flowers are 2-3 inches in diameter, standard are 3-5 inches and giant are 5-6 inches across.

Though Gerber Daisies don’t look all that complicated, they are quite complex. Each flower is actually made up of hundreds of individual flowers, or florets. The ones in the center are called disc florets. These are surrounded by a ring of intermediate florets, called trans florets. The petals that make up the outer ring are called ray florets. The center is sometimes black, but usually some shade of yellow. The outer petals can be many colors, and may be more than one color on the same flower. If you look closely at a flower, you’ll find they are quite fascinating.

Gerber Daisies are susceptible to powdery mildew, so they should not be watered from above, and they need plenty of room for air to circulate. If desired, the seedheads can be left to dry on the plant, rather than deadheading. Once they are dry, they can be removed and the seeds collected. Some of the seeds collected will not be viable, apparently it is possible to tell by the shape. The seeds also do not keep very long, so they should be planted within a few weeks. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Most sources say that growing Gerber Daisies from seed is difficult, and does not have a high success rate. Conditions have to be just right, or they will not grow. I’d suggest you do as I do, buy plants at a nursery. Look for Gerber Daisies that have lots of buds, but not many open flowers. Plant them in the yard, or in pots, and enjoy!

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2 Responses to “Gerber Daisy”

  1. Leigh Medley Says:

    I love the gerbera daisy and bought some in April. After the first few died, more flowers would come up but they would not open even half way. I planted them in a pot and was watering them from the top, but then I had read that you should water them from the bottom. I moved them from full sun (10 hours) to partial sun because it is so hot in Texas. I started to water them from the bottom and the leaves look much better and the flowers are growing much taller but they still are not opening up. What am I doing wrong? These are my first potted flowers; I don’t have much of a green thumb. I also looked for bugs; didn’t see any.

    • margaretsgarden Says:

      I wish I could help you. I’ve had the same problem with these. Either they did not open all the way, or they opened when the stem was only about 2 inches long, so they were lost among the leaves.

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