Gerbera daisies are so vividly colored that they can sometimes make you wonder if they're real. Native to South Africa, Gerbera jamesonii is in the Aster family, alongside sunflowers. Gerbera daisies today are the result of hybridization techniques.
In most parts of the United States, Gerberas are tender perennials that come back every year. In cold winter zones without winter protection, these plants are treated as annuals. They are best planted in spring after all chances of frost have passed. Gerbera daisies can be grown from seed outside in containers and garden beds. They'll establish themselves at a moderate pace, delivering their first flowers within 14 to 18 weeks and continuing to bloom throughout the summer.
The large flower heads of these daisies have ray-like petals around a center disk of tiny green or black flowers. There are four different classes of Gerbera daisies: single flower, semi-double flower, double flower, and spider flower. Each class delineates the number, position, and type of petals. The leaves of the plant are lobed or pinnate and often toothed.
|Common Name||Gerbera daisy, Transvaal daisy|
|Botanical Name||Gerbera jamesonii|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous, perennial|
|Mature Size||10–18 in. tall, 9–12 in. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full, partial|
|Soil Type||Moist, well-drained|
|Soil pH||Neutral, acidic|
|Bloom Time||Summer, fall|
|Flower Color||Red, yellow, orange, pink, white|
|Hardiness Zones||8–10 (USDA)|
Gerbera Daisy Care
Gerbera daisies are sold as starts that can be planted into a garden bed, but most varieties also can be grown easily from seed. However, they are relatively slow to develop from seed, making this option feasible only in warmer climates where you can tend the flowers throughout most of the year.
Gerbera will thrive if provided with the right growing environment. Pair your Gerbera daisies with plants with yellow foliage, like the short grasses of hakonechloa macra, to play up their bold colors. Small or spiky blue flowers, such as those found on sage and lobelia, also bring out the sunset hues of Gerbera daisies. To keep Gerbera daisies blooming and showy, deadhead spent blooms. If you notice your plant getting excessively bushy, you can remove some of the clustered center leaves to allow in more light. You can always grow Gerbera daisies alone—they easily fill up a pot or patch for a colorful statement.
Harvest your Gerbera daisies when the flowers are fully opened, but the center remains tight. The stems will take as much water as you give them, but too much can shorten their display time. Place them in 1 inch of water and add more as necessary. If the base of the stem begins to discolor, make a fresh cut at an angle.
Gerbera daisies thrive best under full sun but do not like intense heat. If you live in a climate that experiences particularly hot summers (or afternoons, for that matter), try to plant your Gerbera daisies somewhere that boasts afternoon shade. You should also avoid planting flowers near a structure that reflects heat onto the plant, such as a foundation or stone wall.
Start your Gerbera daisy bed with rich soil high in organic matter and well-draining. Gerbera daisies also like soil with a pH level between 5.5 and 6.5—levels higher than this can cause chlorosis, which manifests with yellow stripes on the leaves. Additionally, black spots or patches can appear on the leaves if the pH level is too low.
Gerbera daisies need regular watering, around 1 inch per week. Water only when the soil has dried an inch or two below the surface. These flowers may also need more frequent watering when first getting established in your landscape and during hot, dry spells. Do not overwater this plant during the winter, as overwintered daisies go dormant and will only need light watering once a month during this phase.
Temperature and Humidity
Gerbera daisies grow best in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11, though they will need winter protection in zone 8, where most gardeners grow Gerbera daisies in pots as annuals. The flowers prefer a cool (but not cold) winter temperature of about 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Gerbera daisy plants have no special humidity needs.
The amount of fertilizer your Gerbera daisies need depends on the quality of your soil. Monthly feeding with a water-soluble fertilizer is recommended to keep the flowers blooming all summer. For the amount to use, follow product label instructions. Likewise, you could also add organic compost around the roots monthly instead.
Types of Gerbera Daisies
- ‘Terracotta’: Double-type Gerbera daisy flower with double yellow petals and a hint of peach surrounding its dark red eye
- ‘Winter Queen’: Crested double Gerbera daisy with white petals and a black central disk or eye
- ‘Giant Spinner’: Full-crested double Gerbera daisy flower with two rows of outer petals and two rows of inner petals; the first row of inner petals surrounds and covers the disk at the center
Deadheading extends the blooming period. As Gerbera blooms wilt or fade and petals are about to fall off the flower head, deadhead or prune the flower stems to the leaves where they emerge. Prevent the plant from developing seeds. To keep your Gerbera looking tidy and encourage new leaf growth, pinch or trim shabby or older fading leaves.
Propagating Gerbera Daisies
You can grow Gerbera daisies from seed, division, or cuttings, and it's best done in the spring or summer. Dividing mature plants also helps to keep them vigorous, maintains air circulation around the plant, and promotes flowering. Here's how:
- Divide in the early spring using a sterilized sharp knife or pruning snips, new soil, and a new, clean pot with a drainage hole.
- Dig out the flower from its growing medium. Cut through the roots using the knife or snips, separating the root ball into two parts.
- Replant each part in its permanent location, using a soil type similar to its current soil.
- Water each division thoroughly.
- Cutting is best done in summer when it's warm. Using sterilized pruning snips, take cuttings from the base or the side shoots of the plant. You'll need a new pot, new soil, and optionally, rooting hormone.
- To improve the cutting success rate, dip the cut end of the cutting in rooting hormone to help them develop a root system faster.
- Plant the cuttings in fresh well-draining soil and water the cutting when the substrate feels dry to the touch.
How to Grow Gerbera Daisies From Seed
If looking to grow Gerbera daisies from seed, you can start seeds indoors approximately 12 to 18 weeks before the average last frost date in your region. Sowing seeds in peat or paper pots is a good idea since Gerbera daisies do not like having their roots disturbed by transplanting. Press the seeds gently onto the top of your soil mixture, rather than burying them beneath it—they need light to germinate properly.
Cover your container or pots with plastic wrap or a lid to help to keep the soil and the exposed seeds moist. Place the seeds in a warm, sunny spot (a temperature range of 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is best) and wait approximately two to four weeks for germination.
You can transplant your seedlings outdoors after all danger of frost has passed. Choose a well-draining site with good light exposure, and plant the seedlings in the ground so that the crown is 1/2 inch above the soil line.
Potting and Repotting Gerbera Daisies
Gerberas should be repotted every one or two years in the spring before new growth begins, especially once roots crowd the pot. Select a pot one size larger than the current one with at least one large drainage hole.
Remove the daisy by turning the current pot over in your hand, supporting the root ball. Brush away excess soil, snip browned or diseased roots, and place the root ball atop of bed of about 3 inches of new soil and fill around the sides. The root ball should sit about 1 inch beneath the rim of the new pot. Water until water comes out of the drainage holes.
If you're in a warmer zone, such as zone 7 to 10, cut Gerbera plants back to about 1 inch tall before a frost. They can overwinter outdoors if protected with mulch up to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. In zones 6 or cooler, dig up your Gerberas after pruning, pot them, and move them to a brightly lit, cool room between 45 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit for the winter.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases
Aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, and thrips all feast on Gerbera daisy leaves. They're attracted to stressed plants, so keep your plants in good health and monitor them regularly for signs of trouble. Small populations can be blasted off with a strong spray of water, while you can control larger populations with insecticidal soap or natural horticultural oils like neem.
Leafminers can also infest the leaves of your Gerbera daisy flowers. Remove any damaged leaves that show the telltale sign of tunneling. Powdery mildew, crown, and root rot can affect the plants when their soil is wet. To avoid such issues, allow the soil to dry out between waterings, but do not leave the flowers unwatered for so long that they wilt and become stressed.
How to Get Gerbera Daisies to Bloom
Like many flowers that are repeat bloomers, Gerbera daisies benefit significantly from pruning and deadheading. Daisies generally last several weeks and will flower longer with deadheading. The plant will live for two to three years under good conditions. Maintain the plant regularly throughout the growing season by trimming off dead or diseased leaves and fading blooms. Summer heat will often end Gerbera blooms early; consider moving them indoors after they bloom to sustain the flowers longer.
Typically, pruning maintenance is not an issue for gardeners, as most cultivate Gerbera daisies for a cut flower garden. Either way, you should prune flower stems back to where they intersect with the leaves once you notice the stem is dying off (you want to trim the dying bud off before it's prompted to go to seed). Before the first expected frost in your area, prune your Gerbera daisy plants back to about one inch above soil level.
Fertilizer is also an essential component of healthy blooming. Though your exact fertilizer needs will depend on the health of your soil, most Gerbera daisy plants should be fertilized biweekly with a blend that is high in phosphorus and low in nitrogen.
Gerbera daisies are easy to grow outdoors if you adequately manage their water, light, and soil conditions. However, they are susceptible to some fungal issues.
Velvety Coating on the Leaves and Flowers
A fungal gray mold causes a velvety coating over infected flowers and leaf tissue caused by the spores of Botrytis cinerea, also called Botrytis blight. Other signs of gray mold are pock marks or brown spots on the leaf stalk and tan spots on flower petals.
Left untreated, the lower stems of the Gerbera daisy plant will die, and gray growth will appear on the entire plant. To prevent it, ensure good circulation around the plant during high humidity periods and water the soil, not the flowers and leaves. To treat it, remove all infected parts of the plant. Apply a commercial fungicide to prevent its spread. Read the package to confirm it's suitable for treating botrytis.
Lower Leaf Yellowing
Leaf yellowing on lower leaves is also called interveinal chlorosis or the yellowing of plant tissue between the green veins. An iron deficiency usually causes it. This condition can also affect flower production.
A deficiency can be caused by insufficient iron in the soil or fertilizer or if the soil pH exceeds 6.2. Temperatures cooler than 68 F make it more difficult for plants to absorb nutrients, and soil that is too wet also impedes nutrient absorption. If a plant has rot or damaged roots, the plant can't absorb nutrients adequately. Check temperatures, soil moisture, and pH levels to treat this condition. Adjust accordingly by acidifying the soil, adding iron chelates to the soil, or avoiding overwatering. Also, check the root health of the plant.
Stunted Growth or Sudden Wilting
Crown or root rot usually causes stunted growth, affects flower production, and leaf and stem wilt. Phytophthora cryptogea is usually the fungal culprit. The plant root appears rotted or brown or black. If left untreated, the entire plant will die. If you increase copper as a nutrient in the fertilizer, it can reduce disease severity. To prevent, do not overwater and avoid watering overhead.
Can Gerbera daisies be grown indoors?
While Gerbera daisies can be started indoors by seed, they'll do their best to grow long-term outdoors due to their need for ample sunlight and rich soil. Gerbera daisies are sometimes given in a pot as gifts, but they typically do not last long or bloom repeatedly.
Are Gerbera daisies easy to grow?
Gerbera daisies are relatively easy to grow outdoors, though you will need to pay a bit of attention to their water, light, and soil conditions if you'd like to grow them successfully.
What is the difference between Gerbera daisies and Shasta daisies?
Shasta daisies are a nursery hybrid of species native to Europe and Japan. Though the blooms are similar in appearance, some distinct differences exist. They bloom earlier in the season than Gerbera daisies and are generally more low maintenance.