Gerbera Daisies are one of the first flowers to make their way into garden centers in spring. I look forward to these charming beauties each year. What this non-fragrant member of the Asteraceae family lack in scent, it more than makes up for in color and cheer. The flowers of Transvaal or Barberton daisy, as the plant is also called, range from brilliant to pastel shades of red, yellow pink, orange, white.
Transvaal daisies are loved worldwide as a bedding plant, potted plant, or cut flower. I am most drawn to the white ones, that are more cream than white and come in many intriguing variations of petal and centre colorations. The genus Gerbera consists of about 30 species which are found in Africa, Madagascar, South America, and tropical Asia.
These plants occur naturally in the sandy grasslands of Mpumalanga, South Africa. They were first scientifically discovered there by Robert Jameson who collected live specimens while on a prospecting expedition in the area. The genus name Gerbera is in honour of the German naturalist Traugott Gerber, and the species name jamesonii for Robert Jameson who collected the samples. Most of the varieties that we enjoy today are the result of breeding by Robert Lynch who crossed Gerbera jamesonii and Gerbera viridifolia at the end of the 19th century.
Gerberas are said to symbolize innocence, purity, cheerfulness, and loyal love. Roman mythology has it that while frolicking with her friends on the edge of a forest, the wood nymph Belides caught the eye of Vertumnus, the god of gardens and seasons. To evade his advances, she transformed herself into the humble but lovely gerbera. As a result, Gerberas are also said to symbolize modesty. Perhaps it is to this modesty that the flower owes its understated charm.
Whether you grow gerbera daisies as annuals, houseplants, or in the landscape, watering is one of the most important considerations. Water Gerberas regularly until they are established. Be mindful of overwatering thereafter. The idea is to have evenly moist, not soggy, soil at root level. The plant is prone to crown rot if kept wet and or planted too deep. It is also good practice to water gerberas below the leaves to prevent foliar fungal diseases.
Gerberas can be planted or moved outside in the spring after the danger of frost has passed. It is best to harden them off by gradually increasing their time in a sheltered outdoor location if you are moving them from inside. They grow best in areas where they receive morning sun and afternoon shade. Mulch around the plants with a 2- to 3- inch layer of organic matter to maintain soil moisture and reduce weed growth. It is good to monitor plants regularly for whitefly, aphids, spider mites, and other small pests. A mixture of neem oil and water or horticulture oil can be used to treat infestations. Deadheading spent blooms will promote repeated flowering over the summer season. Allow this beauty to charm you this year!
Gerber Dasy Tidbits:
Gerbera flower head is actually a large cluster of hundreds of tinier flowers.
Gerbera cut flowers last up to 14 days.
Gerbera cut flowers are the fifth most popular flowers after roses, carnations, chrysanthemums, and tulips
Happy Gerbera Gardening!