|Official Plant Name||Gerbera|
|Common Name(s)||Gerbera Daisy|
|Native Area||Cultivars from plants of South American, African and Asian tropics|
|Flowers||Various bright colours, daisy-shaped flowers|
|When To Sow / Plant||April, May, June, September, October|
|Flowering Months||June, July, August, September, October|
0.1 – 0.5M
0.1 – 0.5M
June – October
Acidic / Neutral
Gerbera doesn’t merely symbolise happiness, it verily radiates it and will infuse its bewitched viewers with joy and uplifting sensations.
Really, that’s what a bed of mixed Gerberas can do and does do. Gerberas come in various floral forms and in a mind-boggling array of hues spanning the gamut of the warm spectrum.
In a bed, on a windowsill, or in a vase – they’re knockouts!
Introducing the Flower of Happiness
Gerbera is several hundred flowers rolled into one. Literally. Most truthfully.
You see, the Gerbera ‘flower’ is really, botanically speaking, a composite flower. It comprises hundreds of disk florets in the capitulum to which the full double forms add many dozens of ray florets.
If that seems like a somewhat contrived argument, just take a look-see at a few varieties of Gerbera Mega Revolution or Gerbera Garden Jewels – and you may well start making convoluted arguments to praise this most dazzling and cheering of flowers.
The flower often presents a perfectly circular form at the centre of which is another circular disk – the capitulum.
Sometimes this central disk has a colour of its own; sometimes it matches those of the rays. And the word ‘rays’ could hardly be more appropriate for any other flower because these rays are narrow, long, straight, and finely tipped.
So here’s what we end up with. Gerbera single form is disk-shaped simplicity itself and is the ideal vehicle for white and pale yellow and primrose yellow varieties, whispering purity and innocence.
Gerbera semi-double form has a floral complexity and depth and is made to order for orange and pink tones, radiating an upbeat joy.
And Gerbera full double form is rich, even lush, and is the one that can do justice to the vermilion and crimson varieties, which project intensity and sensuousness.
What is written here is only an outline – Gerberas are more multi-dimensional than most flowering plants. For example, single form includes flowers with both a single row but also a double layer of rays, and florists have four classifications for the double form flower.
Flowers come in white, and in innumerable shades of yellow through orange to red, plus some purples. A few double varieties are bi-coloured.
Almost all range in size from 5 to 10 centimetres with Mega Revolution double the largest at 15 centimetres. (Some professionally-grown florist Gerberas are even larger.)
The foliage is in the form of a basal rosette.
For the most part the leaves are mid-green to darkish green and typically display a margin that is pleasingly scalloped and wavy.
You may also find the rough but slight fuzz on the lamina a pleasing attribute. On some species the leaves are entire and on a few others they are very deeply lobed – pinnatifid.
The flower stalks rise as if from the middle of the foliage and are typically from 30 to 40 centimetres high. However, some dwarf cultivars are as small as 15 centimetres while a few others may exceed 45 centimetres.
The Gerbera genus is a member of the Aster family, well known for its wealth of flowering plants. This family is also known as the Daisy family and, as it happens, Gerbera viridifolia rather resembles the common European daisy.
The species count for Gerbera is only about 30. While most of them, including those that are horticulturally important, are native to Africa, a few species are native to South America and southern Asia.
In their native climes and also in tropical and sub-tropical countries Gerberas are evergreens but in the UK, depending on the combination of the series or variety and your region, a plant may be anything from a tender annual to a hardy evergreen!
Tender or hardy, annual or evergreen, one thing’s for certain. If you lay out some Gerberas in your garden or inside your home, you will have flowers that many people find exceptionally pretty but also inherently cheering and joyful.
Background & Origins
Gerbera got its name from Dutch botanist Jan Frederic Gronovius who christened it after his friend, a doctor named Traugott Gerber. That was back in 1737.
Quite surprisingly, it was not until 1886 that specimens of a species found in Transvaal made their way back to Europe, specifically to Kew and to Cambridge. They had been sent there by Scottish merchant and amateur botanist Robert Jameson and also by botanist Harry Bolus.
At Cambridge, the curator of the botanical gardens, one Richard Irwin Lynch, took over. In the meantime, someone had named the species Gerbera Jamesonii.
Lynch crossed this species with another one, Gerbera viridifolia. These hybrids were named Gerbera x cantabrigiensis and are also called Gerbera hybrida. Cultivars to this day descend from these original hybrids.
While the range of Gerbera Jamesonii is restricted to north-eastern and eastern South Africa, the range of Gerbera viridifolia is far more expansive – north-eastern and eastern Africa down to South Africa.
By the 1900s floriculture Gerberas were being exhibited in prestigious flower shows throughout Europe, and were generating tremendous enthusiasm among florists and the general public alike.
Gerbera floriculture in Europe was interrupted by the two World Wars but restarted with a bang in the 1950s in the Netherlands, and the country quickly became a major source for florist Gerberas.
In the 1970s Gerbera floriculture went into overdrive in the UK and, of all places, in Japan.
Japan focussed on developing Gerberas that would be well suited for container growing and aptly named its first cultivar series, ‘Happipot’.
India has developed into a centre for Gerbera production but here the focus is not so much on hybridisation as it is on tissue culture and precision propagation in which it is one of the world’s leaders.
As mentioned, Gerbera species number about 30 in addition to which there are numerous cultivars and many well-established series.
For all practical purposes, it is the series that have ‘taken over’ in both the home gardening and florist realms of Gerbera growing.
For this reason we present several Gerbera series and identify a few recommended varieties in each.
We have dispensed with redundant or repetitive words like ‘Gerbera,’ ‘Jamesonii,’ and ‘Series’ and simply identify each series by its name. They are presented in alphabetical order with the exception of ‘Mega Revolution’ which follows ‘Revolution.’
‘Everlast’ features semi-compact plants that rise to about 35 centimetres. This series was developed for pot- and container-growing and its varieties are well suited to be treated as houseplants. They bear single flowers that have an especially long vase life, hence the series’s name. They also boast an especially long blooming season from early spring to late autumn. These plants’ hardiness rating is H3. Notable varieties are ‘White’ or ‘Amgerbwhi’ which has snowy white rays which are pink-tinged underneath, ‘Pink’ or ‘Amgerbpink’ with rich pink to magenta-pink rays, and ‘Carmine’ or ‘Amgerbcar’ that has flowers in proper carmine – a rich, deep red. All have a yellow or orangeish central disk.
‘Festival’ was developed by Odense’s Daehnfeldt Seed and commercialised by Japan’s Sakata. This series’s plants produce semi-double flowers. They flower profusely from spring to early autumn but only for one season. On the other hand they are also floriferous and the blooms are on the large side. Many members have a contrasty black or chocolate eye. These compact plants reach heights of only 25 to 35 centimetres and are especially suited for containers; and as they are very tender at only H2 these greenhouse varieties can be treated as houseplants by the hobbyist gardener. ‘Golden Yellow’ is a deep, sunny yellow with a black eye; ‘Apricot’ is a middle orange of a rich hue with a chocolate eye, and ‘Neon Rose’ is pink-red of a psychedelic neon tone.
‘Garden Jewels’ is a relatively new series of fully double flowers developed in the United States and offers the hardiest varieties. With a hardiness rating of H5 this is the Gerbera that can be planted outdoors virtually anywhere in the United Kingdom. Plants of this series are floriferous, holding several flowers simultaneously, and bloom from spring to autumn. They reach heights of 30 to 35 centimetres. ‘Red’ has a yellow eye and pure, deep red petals; ‘Fuchsia’ is effectively a bi-colour as off a small dark centre is a ring of intense electric yellow with the rays an equally intense electric pink; and ‘Frosted Hot Pink’ has rays of the hot pink colour of its name, with both the main rays and the smaller inner rays having broad white tips.
‘Garvinea’ is one of the well-established series and is among the most widely available in the United Kingdom. Plants in this series are very tall, rising to 40 to 45 centimetres. Plants produce semi-double flowers which are among the smaller ones at 5 to 6 centimetres while the plants are among the most disease-free. With a hardiness rating of H3 they used to be hardier than other series and other varieties but now have been superseded by genuinely hardy ones. They are valued for their prolonged blooming season; they flower prolifically from early spring until the end of autumn and even beyond. ’Sylvana’ has a yellow disk and pure white rays; ‘Orangina’ has a yellow-orange eye from which radiate rays of a similar or even the same rich yellow-orange hue; and ‘Fleurie’ has an orange-red disk and rays of an exciting deep red to crimson shade.
‘Garvinea Sweet’ may be considered the ‘improved’ iteration of the ‘Garvinea’ Series. It is similar to the Garvinea series but with a couple of small but significant differences. For Gerberas, this series’s plants are very hardy with some cultivars hardy to H4, and the flowers are usually a little bigger (than ‘Garvinea’) at 7 to 8 centimetres across. ‘Sweet Memories’ is technically a bi-colour – it has a greenish-yellow eye and while the main layers of rays are soft pink, the smaller inner rays are white producing the effect of a white ring; ‘Sweet Glow’ has a greenish-yellow eye and petals of a solid, intense orange-vermilion colour; and ‘Sweet Dreams’ has disks of yellow turning orange and rays of a saturated neon’ish pink.
‘Jaguar’ was especially developed for two features: early blooming and uniformity (that is in bloom size and blooming period across the colours). In the right conditions, these plants will start blooming from early spring and continue into autumn. At 25 to 30 centimetres tall, they are mid-height varieties suitable for growing in the garden as well as in containers. They have comparatively a proportionally smaller spread at only about 18 centimetres. Plants hold 4 or 5 flowers at the same time; these are semi-doubles about 9 centimetres wide. They are classified as annuals but are good for Zone H2 so these perennials will be fine if overwintered indoors. Seed packets are sold as mixes and include pastel and bright shades in yellows, oranges, pinks, and reds, plus white.
‘Landscape’ was developed to be grown by home gardeners in large containers specifically for the purpose of getting florist-grade cut flowers from your patio that will last for up to two weeks in a vase. This series’s plants are propagated only via tissue culture. Plants are quite tall, reaching heights of about 45 centimetres. For the named cultivars (i.e. not the ‘Glorious’ sub-range) the blooming season is comparatively short, running from only July to October. The flip side is that they bear even 10 flowers simultaneously, and they are stunners, being full doubles that are 12 centimetres across. They are among the most tender of Gerberas, good only to Zone H2. ‘Yellowstone’ has a dark eye and rays of light but bright yellow with the smaller, inner rays providing an amber-golden accent; ‘Redwood’ has a dark eye and very saturated deep orange rays with all of them just tipped with yellow; and ‘Everglades,’ a bi-colour, has the smaller, inner rays in an intense magenta pink hue and the larger, outer ones in soft, pastel pink.
‘Revolution’ was developed to be a pot-grown series of plants, bred for uniformity of bloom time across the range, and for producing florist-class flowers. These dwarf plants grow to only 15 to 20 centimetres though comparatively, they are proportionately wider at 25 to 30 centimetres. They are meant for 5-inch pots. However, for dwarf plants, they produce seriously large semi-double flowers measuring 7 to 10 centimetres. They bloom from early spring into autumn. At a hardiness rating of H3 this series’s plants are considered half-hardy. ‘Revolution’ comprises over 15 named cultivars. ‘Bicolor Red Lemon’ has a chocolate centre with the rays being a sparkling lemon yellow at the medial ends, producing the effect of a yellow ring, and rose-red outside; ‘Red with Light Eye’ has a yellow centre and near-red petals of a magnetic vermilion-red; and ‘Orange with Light Eye’ has a yellow centre with rays of an intense, saturated orange hue.
‘Mega Revolution’ is ‘Revolution’s big brother and this series is also meant for pot growing. Its plants have the same characteristics as those of ‘Revolution’ with a few differences. They are a little taller at 15 to 25 centimetres and correspondingly wider, though they are not considered large plants for Gerberas. It is their semi-double blooms at 12 centimetres that are truly huge, and range from 12 to even 15 centimetres. ‘White with Light Eye’ has a greenish-yellow eye and pure white rays; ‘Orange with Light Eye’ is a middle shade of orange yet is amazingly brilliant and saturated; and ‘Deep Rose with Light Eye’ is a most unusual and striking colour that can be described only as fuchsia-magenta-rose-red.
Sakata’s Series – Back in the 1970s Sakata of Yokohama had developed and marketed the very first dwarf Gerbera series specifically for pot- and container-growing, the now-discontinued ‘Happipot.’ Since then they have developed several other series of which the current ones are ‘Majorette,’ ‘Durora,’ ‘Festival,’ and ‘Festival Mini.’ All are meant for pots and containers. Each has its own particular strength, such as large blooms and profuse blooming for ‘Festival,’ early blooming and uniformity for ‘Majorette,’ and full double flowers and long vase life for ‘Durora.’ ‘Festival Mini’ is quite unique because this series has miniature plants – ‘super-dwarfs’ – meant for 3-1/2-inch pots. They are a mere 15 to 20 centimetres with corresponding miniature blooms in different shades of yellow, pink, orange, and red. They are classified as annuals.
Gerbera Plant Care
To grow Gerberas as outdoor perennials in the United Kingdom you have to evaluate two factors: the hardiness of the varieties in question and your location.
For example, ‘Garden Jewels’ series’ plants are hardy to H5 but ‘Landscape’ series are very tender with a rating of only H2.
If the varieties are hardy to H4 or hardier you can grow them as outdoor plants in most regions of the country.
If they are hardy only to H2 (tender Gerberas) you may be able to plant them outdoors, but only if you live along the southern coastal curve of the country – otherwise, you should grow them in containers so they can be overwintered indoors.
Most series and cultivars have a hardiness rating of H3.
It is because of this fine balancing act that these evergreens are in the main considered half-hardy semi-evergreens in the United Kingdom.
In countries with subtropical climates, they are very much evergreens. In any case, you can grow any Gerbera as an annual anywhere in the country.
Gerberas need fertile, nutritious soil that is very well-drained. A sand- or chalk-based soil amended with organic matter like compost, peat moss, and/or well-rotted manure would be perfect.
To ensure very good drainage incorporate some perlite into the soil and consider laying a bottom layer of grit or gravel.
Soil pH plays a big role in Gerbera bud formation and flowering and ideally it should be from 5.6 to 6.0 – Moderately Acidic.
Of course, you have some leeway but the further away one gets from this range the greater the negative impact on flowering.
Excluding the compact varieties and series, and the ones that have been developed for pot-growing, Gerberas are especially deep-rooting plants so the soil you prepare should be deeper than for other garden plants.
Another factor that strongly influences flowering is the temperature.
If temperatures stay or are controlled within 10° and 20°C day and night, averaging about 17°C during the day and about 13°C centigrade during the night – the flowering season will be much extended and the plants may even bloom all through the year.
In the United Kingdom Gerberas should be sited in full sun.
In the milder regions they could use some afternoon shade in summer and in warm weather.
If and when they are indoors in containers they should receive the maximum amount of sun but no less than four hours.
Growing From Seed
Gerberas are grown from seed, propagated by division, propagated from stem cuttings, and are also bought as potted plants. Professionals also propagate them by tissue culture.
Gerbera seeds do not last very long so it is advisable to use the freshest possible seeds. Do not open the packet until you are ready to sow the seeds.
On the basis of the information above, decide whether you need to sow seeds in a tray or in pots indoors, or whether you can sow them outdoors.
When sown in trays or pots, seeds should be sown in a seed starting mix or seed propagating mix, or in the type of soil described above.
Sow seeds thinly – spaced apart – and shallowly. They must be sown end-on; the feathery, tufted end must be looking up.
Cover seeds very thinly and lightly with soil. Water only moderately.
Trays may be placed in an electric heated propagator; both trays and pots can be placed on a windowsill where they got sunlight for a few hours; however, the daytime temperature should be (only) from 20 to 25°C.
Keep the soil moist and do not allow it to dry out. Germination will take 15 to 20 days.
After the seedlings sprout, allow the soil to just dry out between waterings.
When seedlings have two to four true leaves they can be potted on into individual pots (or outdoors).
If planting in individual pots, choose the smallest size and be sure they have drainage holes. You will have to pot on once more into pots of the appropriate size for the variety in question.
If planting in a bed or a large container, space seedlings apart according to the variety’s ultimate spread such that you will end up with an 8- to 10-centimetre gap between plants.
If these plants crowd one another or are crowded by other shrubbery, especially in humid conditions, they become more susceptible to disease.
Water them with utmost care as the seedlings mature – on the one hand they require water but they also cannot tolerate overwatering further to which the soil needs to dry out for oxygen intake.
Water in moderation on a periodic basis and allow the soil to just dry out between waterings.
Propagating New Plants
Gerberas can be propagated by basal stem cuttings. How successful this propagation method will be is dependent on multiple factors including the series or variety of the Gerbera in question.
In April or May prepare a small pot with the kind of soil described above.
Cut off a stem carrying a bud just above the soil with a clean, sterilised knife. Then cut out a central piece of the stem 10 to 15 centimetres long.
Apply rooting hormone to the lower end and plant it in the pot. Keep it indoors in a place where it gets indirect but bright light.
Wet the soil with a sprayer or water sparingly. If conditions are dry, put a largeish plastic bag over the cutting and around the pot to trap moisture.
Keep spraying so as to wet the soil, or watering sparingly, every day.
When you see any growth, remove the plastic bag, and gradually increase the amount of water while decreasing the frequency of watering.
Gradually bring the developing plant into a sunny spot and allow it more time in the sun.
A healthy and mature plant can be propagated by division in the March-April timeframe, just when the plant has developed growth buds.
Dig up the plant, divide vertically from crown to root system into three or four such that each section has at least one growth bud, and promptly re-pot or re-plant.
When transplanting Gerberas in any way, be sure to keep the soil line just a little higher than what it was – say 4 centimetres higher for a mature plant.
It is better that the upper part of the root ball be just slightly exposed than for the crown to be even a little way in the soil, as these plants succumb all too readily to crown rot.
Water mature plants well, soaking the soil, about twice a week in summer. Outdoor plants may be watered deeply though the soil should drain very well.
Reduce the frequency and amount of water in winter.
Water Gerberas from soil level only. Do not get water on the foliage; keeping foliage dry will go a long way to preventing diseases.
Also, water them in the morning, preferably between 8 and 10 AM.
In spring and summer fertilise the plants with a 10-10-10 liquid fertiliser.
Dilute it suitably, per instructions, for outdoor plants. Dilute it even further for container plants.
Feed every three weeks for best results, and taper off in mid-autumn.
However, if your plants are so sited that they will be in optimal conditions year-round and are set to flower year-round, then feed them year-round too but do so every five weeks.
If you have grown Gerberas in containers and your varieties are not hardy enough to be kept outdoors in your region, bring them indoors at the end of autumn.
Keep them in a sunny spot and reduce the amount of watering though the soil should not fully dry out or stay dry.
You do not need to prune Gerberas per se but you can minimise the chances of pests and diseases by taking two preventive measures.
First, prune so as to keep the centre of the plant open; this will allow sunlight and air to reach this all-important part of the plant.
Actually, there is a second, equally important, reason to keep an opened-up crown: sunlight reaching the centre of the plant enhances and increases bud formation.
Second, on a periodic basis remove both damaged or wilting leaves and spent flowers.
Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.