Gerbera daisies are popular as indoor potted plants, cut flowers, and outdoor accents for beds and containers. The classic daisy-type flowers grow 3 to 4 inches in diameter in clear, bright shades of red, pink, peach, orange, yellow, ivory, and white. Their deep green, coarsely lobed leaves look a bit like dandelion foliage. Plant gerbera daisies in containers as a feature plant for decks and patios or grow indoors in a sunny window for some winter color.
Common name: Gerbera daisy or Transvaal daisy
Botanical name: Gerbera jamesonii
Plant type: Tender perennial often used as an annual or potted plant
Zones: Perennial in Zones 9 to 11 (possibly 8 with winter mulch); annual in other zones
Height: 12 to 18 inches
Family: Asteraceae, aster family
- Sun: Plant in full sun.
- Soil: Gerbera daisies require very well-drained soil or potting mix. Good soil fertility encourages blooming.
- Moisture: Do not overwater. Slightly moist to slightly dry conditions are best.
- Mulch: Not recommended, since the crowns must have plenty of air circulation.
- Pruning: Cut off flower stems at the base when flowers start to fade.
- Fertilizer: Fertilize gerbera daisies on a regular schedule with water-soluble fertilizer for best growth and flowering.
- Seeds are readily available from catalogs. They can be tricky to start and must be very fresh. Start them early (January or February) since they take about 4 to 5 months to grow from seed to flowering plant.
- Where perennial (or for potted plants that have grown for several years), carefully divide plants in early spring.
- Purchase in small containers at garden centers.
Pests and diseases
- Gerbera daisies are quite susceptible to crown and root rots, so excellent soil drainage is essential. When transplanting, make sure the crown is slightly above soil level.
- Potted plants indoors may attract insects such as aphids, whiteflies, and thrips.
- Make gerbera daisies the main feature in container plantings, adding only some low or trailing flowers or foliage plants such as sweet alyssum or licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare).
- Potted gerbera daisies make wonderful hostess gifts, and they usually last longer than cut flowers.
- A number of gerbera seed strains are available:
- Festival Spider Mix-flowers have frilly, spider mum-type petals.
- Happipot Mix-compact plants are good for containers.
- Living Color Mix-plants have compact foliage and an excellent range of flower colors.
- Mini Color Mix-dwarf plants grow only about 6 inches tall with small flowers.
- Rainbow Mix-compact plants bear large flowers 4 to 5 inches in diameter.
All in the family
- Gerbera daisies are native to South Africa.
- Two other attractive annuals from South Africa are cape daisy (Osteospermum) and African daisy (Dimorphotheca).
- The aster family (also known as the composite family, Compositae) is a large group that includes nearly 100 genera. Our gardens would be sorely lacking without this family, which includes yarrow, asters, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, liatris, coneflowers, zinnias, and many more.