Gerbera daisies (Gerbera jamesonii) are generally known for their bright and happy flowers. This particular daisy is also known as the Transvaal daisy and they come in a variety of jewel tones. The striking flowers grow on top of single, tall stems and are accompanied by mounds of faintly downy leaves.
In this article we will discuss the basic facts about the Gerbera, the methods of growing Gerbera daisies, as well as how to keep them healthy and care for them.
Background of Gerbera Daisies
Gerbera is the name for a genus of plants called Asteraceae, also known as the daisy family. The Gerbera family was named in honor of a doctor and botanist named Traugott Gerber.
The Gerbera is native to tropical regions of South America, South Africa, and Asia. This does not mean that you can’t have them in your yard, we will make sure that you have all the tools and tips to grow gerbera daisies as if they were right at home in the tropics.
Gerbera daisies come in many cheerful colors including pink, yellow, peach, orange, and white. They also vary in size, with flowers anywhere from 2 to 5 inches across.
If you are fortuitous enough to be in the hardy zones of 8 through 11, Gerbera daisies can be treated as perennials. Meaning you can plant it in your garden and expect it to come back year after year. If you do not live in one of these zones, it must be treated as an annual. These plants cannot handle harsh winters and cold weather, so you will need to replant them every year.
Here is a map of the current USDA hardy zones in the U.S.
A map of international hardiness zones can be found here.
What You Will Need To Start
- Gerbera Daisy Plants or Seeds
You can grow Gerberas from seeds or start with an already grown seedling. If you decide to start with seeds, start them indoors about twelve to eighteen weeks before the last frost date for your area.
We recommend planting in peat or paper pots, as these flowers do not like to have their roots disrupted by transplanting.
- Pots or containers
If you are not planning on planting your daisies directly into the ground or plan to grow them indoors, make sure to have the correct size containers to plant them in. Gerberas grow to be about 18 inches tall, so take this into account when choosing containers.
- Soil, Compost, or Fertilizer
If you are planting into a pot or into soil that is not ideal, it is always a good idea to make or purchase the best soil for your plants. Gerberas prefer sandy soil with good drainage.
If you are dealing with less than ideal soil in your garden, you can always spruce it up with compost or fertilizer. Compost and fertilizer will add back the nutrients or water retention that your natural soil may be lacking.
Pro tip: Gerberas do best in soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Try not to go too high or too low on the pH scale with these plants. Too high will result in yellow stripes on your leaves, and too low can manifest as black patches on their leaves. Testing your soil!
Steps To Follow When Growing Gerbera Daisies
Starting Your Seeds
To grow your daisies from seeds, you will need to first start them indoors. The seeds will need light to germinate, so press them lightly on top of your soil. Do not cover them with more soil. To keep your little seedling moist, cover the container with plastic.
Place your future flowers in a warm place, 70 to 75 degree F temperatures are considered optimal. Wait two to four weeks for full germination. Seedlings must be moved to small pots as soon as their first true leaves sprout.
Pro tip: Double varieties do not always grow true to their type. A good portion of them will likely grow to be singles.
Pro tip: If you are planning on bringing your Gerberas in during harsh winter months, simply plant in a container and sink the entire pot into the soil and pull it up when it needs to be brought back inside.
Prepare For Planting
Prepare to plant your little beauties by spading the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. If you are adding organic matter dig 1 to 2 inches and fold in your chosen compost. Plant your daisies allowing 18 to 24 inches between each plant, ensuring that the crown is slightly above the soil.
If starting from an already grown seedling, plant them 18 to 24 inches apart. Start by digging down 8 to 10 inches. Pull the daisy plant from the pot by squeezing the cell to release the root ball. Do not pull out of the cell by stems or leaves, always grip by the roots.
After releasing the plant from its cell, place in the hole you’ve dug. Place the dirt and organic matter around the roots, covering to an inch below the first leaves. Press soil tightly around your daisy, leaving no room for air pockets, as air pockets can cause fungus to grow.
To transplant your daisies outdoors, wait until all danger of cold weather or frost has passed. When choosing the spot to plant them, choose a spot that is well-draining with good exposure to light.
Caring For Your Daisies
Gerbera daisies bloom regularly throughout the summer. It takes new Gerberas about 14 to 18 weeks after planting from a seed to bloom. If you are planting a fully grown Gerbera daisy, it should already be blooming.
If your Gerbera daisies won’t bloom, it’s likely that you are overwatering, not deadheading, or are not fertilizing enough. To stimulate your daisies to re-bloom, prune often, keeping the plant neat and open for good airflow and keep at optimal temperatures of 65 to 70 degrees F . Gerberas that are indoors will not bloom as often as outdoor Gerbera daisies.
Growing Gerbera daisies indoors requires a tricky mix of bright light and moderate temperatures. Placing them near a very sunny window might be too hot and will scorch the leaves, but without adequate light, the plant won’t bloom.
Bright sunlight in the mornings often works well, but afternoon light can be too hot and they will need to be protected from this. If your daisy is in indirect light, make sure that it get this light all through the day. Turning on overhead lamps or lights can supplement if outside light is not available.
Water your daisy whenever you feel the soil and the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Water deeply and let the pot or container drain before placing it back, as Gerbera daisies can suffer from root rot is soil is too soggy. Keep the leaves as dry as you can, and water sparingly during winter months. Never allow the soil to become completely dried out.
Pinch off or cut off blooms as soon as they begin to wilt to keep your Gerbera daisy neat and compact. This will also serve to stimulate more blooms. Remove any dead or damaged foliage as soon as you notice it. If your plant begins to look too crowded, move it to a slightly larger pot as needed. You'll need a pruner for flowers.
Gerbera daisies benefit greatly indoors from monthly feeding during warmer months with a fertilizer for houseplants or blooming plants. Do not fertilize during winter or fall, as your daisy will be dormant and won’t benefit from this.
Gerberas prefer full sun to partial shade. Gerberas do not thrive in intense heat. Morning sun in warmer zones and shade in the afternoon are optimal. In cooler zones, they will do great in full sun. Do not plant near stones or gravel that will reflect heat back onto them all day. They will quickly show signs of distress if they become too hot.
Your daisies will need regular watering, as with any plant. Gerberas need to be watered near the root base, do not water from above. This can cause many fungal diseases to take hold. Always water slowly and thoroughly to allow the root ball to absorb it. Gerberas will require more watering in the high temperature months, as well as when they are blooming.
Pro tip: To guard against fungal diseases on leaves in container-grown gerberas, place the entire container in a shallow bowl full of water, allowing the daisies to soak up water directly from the roots. A how-to video can be found here.
To keep those daisies blooming as long as possible it is crucial to deadhead. Deadheading (or pruning, if you prefer) is the act of removing spent blooms from the plant. The best way to deadhead daisies, and many other plants, is to simply pinch or cut off the flower stem right above the next full set of healthy, full leaves. Repeat this process with all of your fading blooms. This will keep key nutrients and water from being wasted on dying blossoms.
Daisies need a ton of nutrients, so a biweekly schedule of fertilizing is what has always worked best for us.
Pro tip: Gerbera daisies LOVE organic matter, so adding compost or items like seaweed or a fish emulsion to your soil with make them especially happy.
1. Common Pests
Gerbera leaves can attract many pests. Aphids, whiteflies, leafminers, spider mites and thrips all love them. They are most attracted to plants in distress, but can also be drawn to large areas of similar plants. Monitor diligently and treat at the first sign of an issue.
2. Treating Pest Infestation
Small populations of these pests can be sprayed away with a strong blast of water, where larger groups will need to be treated with insecticidal soap. If infested with leafminers, small black or yellow flies, clip off and dispose of the effected leaves first.
Powdery Mildew: The most common disease in Gerbera daisies is powdery mildew, also known as golovinomyces cichoracerarum and formerly known as erysiphe. This is a fungus causing the appearance of powder-like, white mildew on the leaves of your daisies. New growth can be stunted or deformed and infected leaves will fall off prematurely.
To treat this blight, dilute a fungicide containing myclobutanil with the manufacturer’s recommended amount of water and pour in a hand sprayer. Spray all parts of the daisy with this mixture. Apply every 7 to 10 days until you see results. (courtesy of sfgate.com)
Pro tip: If this fungus does kill one of your daisies, DO NOT add the infected plant to a compost pile or organic matter mixture to place back in your garden, this will only spread the disease to other plants.
Gerbera daisies are among the most cut flowers in the world today. They are a beautiful and simple addition to any garden. Unfortunately, these pretty plants can also be dangerous.
They may pose a substantial risk to inquisitive pets or animals. They include several toxins, these are sesquiterpene, lactones, and pyrethrins and are poisonous to horses, dogs, and cats.
Although for humans, Gerbera daisies are not only edible and can be placed in salads, or sautéed, but are also actually good for you! They are very high in vitamin C content.
Did you enjoy our tips and tools for growing better gerbera daisies? We sincerely hope so! Gardening gerberas can be tricky, but amazingly worth it when they bloom and add bright splashes of color to your home or garden. We truly hope that you will be joining us again, in the future for similar articles about your gardening needs.
If you like this article and would like to see more articles like this one, please share with your friends and let us know what you think in the comments below. Whether you loved it or hated it, we want to know so we can keep bringing you content you love!