Gerbera daisies, also known as the Transvaal daisy, are bright beautiful wide faced flowers that come in a wide range of colors. They are perennial if you live in zones 8-11, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the country can’t enjoy these beautiful daisy flowers, they grow happily in the spring and summer as annuals in the colder zones 2-7.
With flowers that bloom throughout the summer, they are a wonderful flower to add pops of colors to gardens and in containers. Their long elegant, leafless stems also make wonderful cut flowers for bouquets.
If grown in their ideal conditions they will bring joy all summer long, and this article aims to explain exactly how to do that.
Gerbera Daisy Plant Details
A question that comes up a lot about gerbera daisies is are they the same as a regular daisy? A regular daisy is the classic flower with a sunny yellow orb in the center with creamy white petals surrounding it.
Whereas a gerbera daisy comes in a multitude of colors upon a sturdy round stalk. They are not the same, they are related in the same family, Asteraceae, but the common daisy is the genus Bellis, and gerbera daisies are the genus Gerbera.
So they are cousins in the plant world, other cousins in their family include sunflowers, calendula, and dahlias. Gerbera daisies are a bright beautiful genus of flowering perennials (in zones 8-11, zones 2-7 they are annuals).
The plant itself is a green left mound with wide jagged leaves, and then long graceful flowers extend up on round stems up to 18” high.
The flowers come in a rainbow of colors and combinations of colors. White, yellow, pink, red, orange, purple, and various shades in between.
Some of them are bicolored, which means they have a combination of two colors on one plant, usually the inner portion is one color and then the petals fade into another color (purple and yellow is one of my personal favorites).
Gerberas are native to the tropical regions in South Africa, which is why they are generally grown as annuals, and are only perennial in zones 8 and higher.
Gerbera Varieties to Grow
Most of the flowers we know are known as Gerbera x hybrida, which means it is a mash up of species. There are hundreds of varieties of gerbera, here is a list of some popular and unique ones.
The best bet when selecting a gerbera is to go to a local garden center or nursery and just check out what they have and what catches your eye.
Here are five different varieties, but there are many, many more.
This variety features a dark center eye that explodes in rings of orange, red, then yellow and then finishes with red tipped petals.
This one is a real work of art and looks great as a centerpiece.
Gerbera Pre Intenzz
This variety has creamy flamingo pink layers of petals that go into an intense dark eye.
Gerbera Revolution Bicolor
There are many colors to choose from of this variety, they generally feature a dark eye with a lighter, white or yellow, interior, with a more intense, red, orange, or pink petals.
For instance, Gerbera Revolution Bicolor Red White is an orangy red flower with a stripe of white that separates the petals from the dark center.
Gerbera Garvinea Sweet Sunset
The Garvinea series of gerbera features sturdy, disease resistant plants that can be grown as perennials in zone 7.
‘Sweet Sunset’ is a lovely variety that has mostly orange petals that melt into yellow centers, then back to orange, and then a dark eye. It is like a blazing sunset.
Spider Gerbera Purple Springs
There are lots of types of Spider Gerberas. These flowers have thin spiky sprays of flowers as opposed to the even petals of regular gerbera.
‘Purple Spring’ features these spiky petals in a dark magenta, almost burgundy color, with a fluffy yellow eye.
How to Grow Gerbera Daisy
The easiest way to get a gerbera is to go to a local garden center or nursery and buy an already established plant. In the summer months when petunias, geraniums, begonias, and all the bedding out plants are stocked in the stores, there will be potted gerberas.
They also make an appearance in the spring in floral shops as plants. Cut flowers are always found at the florist, but the actual plants are only sometimes available.
This plant can also be grown from seed. Seed can be harvested from an already existing plant, however it must be noted that a lot of the new hybrid forms of gerbera will not produce seeds that look like the mother plant.
The seed also won’t remain viable for very long and should be planted shortly after harvesting them.
How to Harvest Gerbera Seeds
To harvest the seed, cut a flower off after it has bloomed, put the flower in a plate or paper towel or something to make collection easier and place it in a warm area, the seed head will bloom (like a fluffy dandelion). Collect and plant these seeds.
Purchasing seeds is another option, make sure to purchase from a reputable seed company, any pictures of crazy daisies with neon blue and purple petals are not real.
Growing Gerbera from Seeds
Start the seed 8-10 weeks before the last frost. Place the seeds in seed trays (this can be egg cartons, yogurt containers, berry containers, just make sure they have holes poked in the bottom for drainage) with evenly moist seed starting mix.
Place the seeds on top and cover lightly with more seed starting mix. Don’t bury them too much, even just mixing the top of them into the seed mix will work as they are one of the plants that require light in order to germinate.
Place some sort of clear dome on top of the planted seed (this could be plastic wrap or a clear lid, or the top of the seed starter tray) to keep it from drying out. Then place the container in a sunny area of the house, or under grow lights.
Check often, perhaps daily, to make sure they haven’t dried out or are too wet. They can take up to 3 weeks to germinate. Once the seedling emerges, remove the dome and place it in full sun, or under the grow light.
Hardening Off Your Plant
Now that the seedling is grown and the danger of frost has passed, it is now time to harden off the gerbera plants. This step is important, if plants that have only been grown indoors, they are not prepared for the elements of outdoor life.
So start by taking the seedling outside into a shady, protected area (perhaps on a deck, near the house), and let them sit out there for a couple hours, then bring them in, the next day increase the time, and then after that increase their sun exposure.
This whole process usually takes about a week and then the gerbera daisies will be ready to be planted outside in containers or in the ground. Don’t skip this step, or all your hard work will get shriveled and burned in a day.
Growing by Division
Another Option for starting gerberas is to split an already existing plant, this is best to do at the beginning of the growing season, or late fall (if they are perennial in your zone).
Dig up the plant and split it in half with the pointed end of a shovel. Replant the original piece and then take the split piece and replant it. It’s best to do this in the morning or late afternoon, and on a cloudy or rainy day if possible.
After the splitting water both parts of the plant in very well. If there is a large container of gerbera daisies at the garden center they can be split into separate plants as well.
Take them out of the pot and split using a shovel or a hori hori knife and then plant both pieces and water well. It’s usually fairly apparent where a plant should be separated, part the plant like you would hair and then find the part and use that as the guide.
The general rule for division is thirds, leave a third of the original plant at least. Also, it’s best to not do this while the plant is flowering, it will take a while for the plant to recover and rebloom.
Gerbera flowers like full sun, they will have the most blooms if they are growing in sunny conditions. However, they do not like baking sun, so do not plant in heat pockets, like near a house, or a structure that the sun will reflect against and get really hot.
This plant can take dappled sun, so in the garden below trees where it still gets a good deal of sun, but some shade in the heat of the afternoon is good.
They will not bloom and will struggle and appear leggy if they aren’t getting enough sun. Too much sun and they will get crispy edges.
Gerbera prefers rich, humus, and well draining soil. For planting them in the garden, make sure the soil has been amended with compost (learn how to make your own compost here) and peat so that it is rich, holds moisture, but is also able to drain away excess water.
In containers, an all purpose potting soil is good, and that can be amended with worm castings for an extra boost.
Gerbera Daisy Care Guide
How to Water Gerbera
If the gerbera flower is growing as an annual, it will need frequent watering, more so if it is growing in a container. For container grown gerbera, it will probably need watered every day if it is hot out, don’t let the soil dry out completely, but also don’t let it remain soggy.
For gerbera daisies planted in the ground as an annual flower, they will also require almost daily water depending on how much water the garden retains (is it mulched, are there other plants around it means it will require less water).
For gerberas grown as perennials, they will require the same amount as if they were being grown as annuals for the first year, but after the second season they will establish and need less water.
This really depends on the weather to determine how much water, but a good deep soak once a week if there is no, or very little rain will be necessary for the entire garden including gerberas.
What Fertilizer to Use
Fertilizing gerberas in their active flowering season is important to keep them blooming profusely. Fertilize gerberas biweekly while they are flowering with an all purpose (20-20-20), or a bloom boosting fertilizer (15-30-15).
Never fertilize dry plants, this will burn them. Instead water the gerbera first, then apply the diluted fertilizer.
Gerbera daisies make wonderful cut flowers straight out of the garden, just take a pair of scissors and snip the stem off to below the leaves. This is easy to do since the stem has no leaves on it.
In order to keep these flowers blooming it is very important to deadhead them. In the plant world all a plant needs to do is go to flower, produce seed, spread seed, job done. But gardeners don’t want that.
Gardeners want blooms, blooms, and more blooms. To do that the old flowers that are wilting need to be pruned off before they go to seed so the plant thinks, need to make more flowers and make seed. We keep cutting, they keep producing.
This is deadheading. Cut the entire stalk off the flower when deadheading, not just the top flower part off. Also remove any dead or yellowing leaves from the base of the plant to allow new flower stalks to emerge.
Gerbera Companion Planting
Gerbera daisies are beautiful, bright, and, well, the stars of the show. They look beautiful in the garden planted as pops along a border, or in a mass in a garden bed.
Keep other things around them more muted so they really pop. Perhaps with white petunias, or ornamental grasses that have no flowers so the eye can really focus on the beautiful and intricate gerbera flower.
Also consider playing with different colors of gerbera to create mosaics and patterns on color. In a pot they look great in the center, with simple white bacopa spilling out the edges.
Or a large canna lily in the center of a pot with complimentary colored gerbera all around it looks great. Or, there is something beautiful in the simplicity of having a pot filled with only large bright gerbera flowers.
Common Gerbera Pests and Diseases
If gerbera daisies are kept in their ideal growing conditions they do remain fairly disease and pest free. However, they are susceptible to the usual suspects of pests and diseases. Aphids and spider mites can infest gerberas.
Aphids appear as tiny bugs all along the stems and in the folds of the leaves. Sometimes there will be ants around them, but don’t think these ants are eating the aphids, instead they just harvest the sticky sap the aphids produce without harming them.
Lady bugs are the aphid eaters, releasing or finding ladybugs and putting them near will help with this problem, but not a ton if they are already very infested. A good blast with the hose will sometimes get the aphids off. If all else fails try an insecticidal soap.
Spider mites are similar, there will be webbing all over the plant and mottled looking leaves, again try a blast with the hose, and then insecticidal soap.
If it becomes a huge problem, and they are just annuals, sometimes pulling them out and replacing them is the simple answer.
Powdery mildew is a common disease associated with gerbera daisies. This is a fine white, almost dust, that engulfs the leaves and stunt the plant’s growth. The first step is prevention.
Try not to constantly spray the leaves when watering, aim for the soil if possible. Also make sure to space the plants apart to allow for good airflow through them.
If your plant already have powdery mildew (which is probably why you’re reading this), spray them with a fungicide. Again, if it’s really bad, consider pulling the plant if it’s an annual.
Do Gerberas need full sun?
Yes, they do like full sun, but they don’t like extra hot spots where the heat reflects back at them (like against a house or concrete that absorbs the heat and bounces it back).
Gerberas don’t mind some dappled shade from the hot afternoon sun.
How do you keep Gerberas blooming?
Some tips to keep them blooming are regular deadheading, which is snipping of the wilted flowers to make room for new fresh ones. Biweekly fertilizing with a bloom enhance fertilizer (15-30-15) during the active growing months.
Finally, growing this plant in their ideal growing conditions, full sun, rich soil, and regular watering, will keep them blooming.
Can you over water gerbera daisies?
Yes, they do like nice even and regular watering, but they don’t like being constantly soggy. Don’t let them dry out completely, but wait until the top inch or so is dry before watering.
Also make sure there is drainage if they are in containers so excess water can drain away.
How long do gerbera daisies last?
They are actually perennial in zones 8-11, so they will come back year after year. For the rest of us they are considered annuals and will die in the winter and need to be replaced.
They can be brought indoors in the winter and then brought back out again.
Are gerbera and daisy the same?
They are in the same family, Asteraceae but what we would consider a common daisy (yellow center, white petals) is part of the genus ‘Bellis’, gerbera daisies are in the genus ‘Gerbera’.
So they are not the same, but they are related. Other flowers that are in the Asteraceae family include calendula and sunflowers.
Are gerberas toxic?
No, they are non-toxic to pets and people.
Grow Colorful Gerbera Daisies Today
Gerbera flowers are just so beautiful, they are stunning in containers, add bright pops to the garden, and make wonderful cut flowers. Definitely a cheery wonderful flower to consider adding either as a perennial, or just enjoying it for one season as an annual.
They come in a rainbow of colors, so everyone can find one that fits their garden aesthetic. Gerbera's bold flowers don’t get lost in the garden, so grow your own, or grab some from a garden center and enjoy!