Gerbera daisies (Gerbera jamesonii), also known as transvaal daisies, are a cheery-looking addition to any summer garden. These colorful plants have daisy-like flowers, but they aren't actually daisies at all. Daisies and gerbera daisies are in the Asteraceae family, so they're related, but they do not share a genus. True daisies are in the Bellis genus, while Gerbera is a separate genus. Discover what you need to know to successfully grow gerbera daisies in your garden.
Growing Gerbera Daisies in Your Garden
Gerbera daisies are generally tender perennials in USDA Zones 8-11, though some varieties are actually hardy to Zone 7. Outside of these areas, they are grown as annuals. Gerbera daisies come in a wide variety of colors and sizes, so there are options for many gardening applications for them. These beauties are also good flowering houseplants.
Where to Plant Gerbera Daisies: Light and Soil Requirements
Gerbera daisies thrive when they are positioned to get sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. They need protection from the afternoon sun because they don't do well in high heat. They need well-draining soil that's rich in organic matter and has a pH level between 5.5 and 6.5, which is in the slightly acidic range. Do not plant them in clay or other soil with poor drainage, as they will rot in this type of environment.
Watering and Fertilizing Gerbera Daisies
It's important to avoid over watering gerbera daisies. They generally need around an inch of water every week, but they will develop crown rot if the crown doesn't dry out between waterings. Check the top half-inch or so of soil planted before watering. If the soil in that area is still moist, then it's not time to water the plant. Use a slow-release fertilizer in the spring, then a few more times throughout the growing season. Alternately, apply a fast-acting fertilizer each month during the growing season.
Pruning Gerbera Daisies
Gerbera daisies require only minor pruning to keep them in peak condition. Use pruning shears or scissors to snip off any damaged or dead leaves at the base of the plant and to snip spent flower stems at the point where they emerge from the plant. You should also remove debris from around the base of the plant, such as petals or pieces of leaf. Look in between the leaves to see if there are any spent flower stems or buds and snip those off as well. Do this periodically throughout the growing season.
Do You Cut Back Gerbera Daisies in the Fall?
The answer is yes. If you are growing gerbera daisies as houseplants or outdoors in a warm area where they are perennial, you will want to cut them back in the fall. Follow the same procedure as for the general pruning instructions above. If gerbera daisies are not perennial in your area, you may want to dig them up in the fall and pot them so you can keep them alive indoors over the winter. Don't expect blooms during the winter months.
Gerbera Daisies Pests and Diseases
Gerbera daisies are subject to common garden pests, such as whiteflies, thrips, spider mites, and aphids. You can combat pests organically with neem oil, or you can opt to use an insecticidal soap spray. Avoid applying these substances when the temperature soars above 90 degrees. Spray in the early evening hours, as the sun won't be beating down on the plants and pollinators aren't likely to be active then. Disease-wise, gerbera daisies can contract powdery mildew, which can be managed by pruning away affected leaves.
Propagating Gerbera Daisies
It is not difficult to propagate gerbera daisies. These plants can be propagated in three different ways: dividing side shoots, rooting cuttings, and planting saved seeds.
- Dividing side shoots - Gerbera daisies produce side shoots, which you can divide from the main plant and re-plant. If your plant is in a pot, remove it to easily access the side shoots. If not, pull the leaves back, look at the stem and identify areas where side shoots are developing. Gently separate them, then plant in the ground or a container.
- Rooting cuttings - To propagate via cutting, simply snip a stem, remove buds and bottom leaves, dip it in rooting hormone, and put it in soil. Lightly water, then loosely cover with a clear plastic bag or cellophane wrap. Put it in a sunny window or other location that gets indirect sunlight. Add a small amount of water every few days, keeping watch for signs of growth on the stem. Once it starts growing, remove the plastic bag and transplant it to a larger container.
- Planting saved seeds - Spent gerbera daisy flower heads contain seeds, which you can save and plant to grow new plants. Let the flower heads dry on the plant, then remove and separate the seeds. You can plant them right away or let them dry, then store them in an envelope or small plastic baggie that seals until you are ready to plant them.
Beautiful Gerbera Daisies to Grow in Your Garden
There are many gerbera daisy series and varieties, each of which is uniquely beautiful. They vary in size, flower production, color, petal shape, and even cold hardiness. A few particularly interesting varieties include:
The ColorBloom series of gerbera daisies are compact plants that produce beautiful, vibrant bi-colored blooms. They don't grow beyond six inches tall with an eight-inch spread, making them perfect for small pots as well as in-ground planting. They are uniform in size and shape, so they make terrific border plantings.
Garden jewels is a hybrid gerbera daisy variety that's especially cold-tolerant. It can survive winters in USDA Zone 7, which is not typical of gerbera daisies, as well as Zone 8-11. This variety has 12-14 inch stems and comes in five colors: orange, pink, red, white, and yellow.
Garvinea gerbera daisies are also hardy as far north as USDA Zone 7. They are large plants that grow to a height of 18 inches with an equivalent spread. They produce vibrant two-inch flowerheads in a wide variety of colors. Garvineas are lauded for being particularly resistant to pests and disease.
Good Companions for Gerbera Daisies
Gerbera daisies pair well with many other plants, including other blooming plants, groundcovers, and greenery. Be sure to consider the size of the particularly gerbera variety you are planting when choosing companion plantings. After all, you don't want to leave tall gerberas exposed to too much direct sunlight because they end up being placed near plants that are shorter than they are. Excellent gerbera daisy companions include:
Enjoy Beautiful Gerbera Blooms in Your Garden
Now that you know how to plant and care for gerbera daisies, you can add these gorgeous plants to your garden or collection of houseplants. As long as you don't give them too much water and you take the time to regularly trim spent blooms and damaged leaves, your gerbera daisies will put on a lovely show during spring, summer, and fall.