Gerbera daisies are so vividly colored that they can sometimes make you wonder if they're real. Native to South Africa, the Gerbera flower is in the aster family, alongside sunflowers (Asteraceae)—however, the gerbera daisies we see today are a result of hybridization techniques. Best planted in spring after all chances of frost have passed, gerbera daisies can be grown from seed in both 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: a single flower, semi-double flower, double flowers, and spider flowers. Each class delineates the number, position, and type of petals. The leaves of the plant are lobed or pinnate and often toothed.
|Botanical Name||Gerbera jamesonii|
|Common Name||Gerbera daisy, transvaal daisy|
|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 to acidic|
|Bloom Time||Summer, fall|
|Flower Color||Red, yellow, orange, pink, white|
|Hardiness Zones||8–10 (USDA)|
|Native Area||South Africa|
Gerbera Daisy Care
Gerbera daisies are sold as starts that can be placed right into a garden bed, but most varieties can also easily be grown from seed. However, they are relatively slow to develop from seed, making this option feasible only in warmer climates where the flowers can be tended to nearly year-round.
Gerbera daisies are easy to care for and will thrive effortlessly if provided with the right growing environment. To play up their bold colors, pair your gerbera daisies with plants that have yellow foliage, like the short grasses of hakonechloa macra. Small or spiky blue flowers, such as those found on sage and lobelia, also bring out the sunset hues of gerbera daisies. Of course, you can always grow Gerbera daisies by themselves—they easily fill up a pot or patch for a colorful statement. Deadhead spent blooms to keep the plant showy—if you notice your plant getting excessively bushy, you can remove some of the clustered center leaves to allow in more light.
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 on 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 the flowers near a structure that reflects heat back onto the plant, such as a foundation or stone wall.
Start your gerbera daisy bed with rich soil that's 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, if the pH level is too low, black spots or patches can appear on the leaves.
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, as well as during hot, dry spells. Do not overwater this plant during the winter, as overwintered daisies go dormant and will only need a light watering once a month during this phase.
Temperature and Humidity
Gerbera daisies grow best in USDA hardiness zones 8through 11, though they will need winter protection in zone 8, where most gardeners grow them as annuals or potted plants. The flowers prefer a cool (but not cold) winter temperature of about 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, gerbera daisy plants have no special humidity needs.
The amount of fertilizer your gerbera daisies need depends on the quality of your soil. To keep the flowers blooming all summer long, a monthly feeding with a water-soluble fertilizer is recommended. Likewise, you could also add organic compost around the roots monthly instead.
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 last frost date in your region. It's a good idea to sow seeds in peat or paper pots 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 degrees Fahrenheit 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.
Aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, and thrips all feast on Gerber leaves. They are attracted to stressed plants, so make sure to 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 larger populations can be controlled 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 continuously 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.