Gerberas bear huge daisy-like blooms on long stems, from clumps of lobed leaves. Long-flowering, they’re perfect for pots, adding colour to borders and even indoor conservatory displays. Gerberas also work well as a cut flower – the large, bold blooms are borne on sturdy single stems and last for weeks in a vase. Gerbera daisies come in many colours from bright shades of hot pink, red and yellow to cooler pastel yellows, pale pink and white.
Most gerberas originate from South Africa, hence the common names of Transvaal daisy, African daisy and the Barbeton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii). This species used to be the only one widely available in cultivation and is frost tender, grown primarily as an indoor plant. Recent years have seen the development of hardy gerberas that can withstand several degrees of frost, notably the ‘Garvinea’ varieties that can bloom from spring right through summer, sometimes even flowering up to the first frosts. Gerbera daisy blooms are attractive to bees and other pollinating insects.
How to grow gerberas
Plant gerberas in spring or early summer to establish in borders, where they will need fertile and reasonably well-drained soil. In pots, gerberas can be planted anytime from spring to late summer as good-sized gerbera plants are fairly widely available to buy and can be used to create instant colour.
For growing gerberas in pots, use potting compost with a quarter to a third by volume of grit to ensure good drainage. Ensure the crowns (the centres of the clumps) aren’t deeper than the surrounding soil as this would make them liable to rot.
Gerbera daisies grow to 20-40 cm high and 30-40 cm wide. Plants should be spaced 40-50 cm apart, depending on variety.
Gerberas: jump links
- Where to grow gerberas
- How to care for gerberas
- How to propagate gerberas
- Gerbera problem-solving
- Buying gerberas
- Types of gerbera to grow
Where to grow gerberas
Gerberas need plenty of sun and a sheltered site. Hardy gerberas can be grown outdoors all year in borders, raised beds and containers. Gerberas can withstand temperatures of around -6 °C so long as their roots don’t get waterlogged.
In colder areas or regions with prolonged winter rain, grow hardy gerberas in pots and move under cover for the winter months to a sheltered porch, the windowsill of a well-lit cool room or a greenhouse. Tender gerberas for garden use are best replanted each year.
How to care for gerberas
Gerberas in containers will need regular watering to keep the compost evenly moist but take care not to over-water. It’s best to watering gerberas in pots from below rather than above, as this avoids the centre of the plant becoming too wet. Stand the pot in a few centimetres of water for around half an hour, then remove so surplus water can drain.
Gerberas growing in borders will benefit from watering in periods of hot weather or drought. Don’t spray with water or pour directly onto the plant, instead, direct the flow of water onto the soil close to the roots.
Feeding in moderation will encourage more flowers over a longer period. Apply a high potash fertilizer, such as a liquid tomato feed, several times during the growing season.
Pick off any dead or faded leaves and flowers every few days, ensuring every part of the stem is removed. If picking gerbera flowers for a vase or taking off dead ones, twist and pinch the stem at the base, rather than cutting it.
How to propagate gerberas
After several years, hardy gerbera performance declines and they’re likely to produce fewer flowers and leaves. Rejuvenate them by lifting the clump in early to mid-spring, and carefully breaking it up into several pieces, each with plenty of roots and leaves. Replant the gerbera divisions into soil that has been refreshed with compost and fertilizer.
Growing gerberas: problem solving
Gerberas are prone to fungal diseases and grey mould, which can be avoided with the right care and particularly watering as described above.
Dead leaves or stems are a potential source of infection and here again, avoidance is the best approach by being thorough about removing all dead leaves, stems and flowers.
Slugs and snails occasionally nibble young gerbera foliage and shelter under the leaves. Inspect around and under the foliage, removing and disposing of pests. If they become troublesome, surround plants with a deterrent product or an environmentally friendly bait.
Advice for buying gerberas
- Gerberas are available from a range of garden centres and nurseries, with many offering online sales. You may find more varieties at a better price, online.
- Make sure you can give your gerberas the optimal growing conditions, before buying them. Remember they need a bright, sheltered spot and moist but well-drained soil.
Where to buy gerberas online
Types of gerbera to grow
- Gerbera Garvinea™ Series – hardy to about -6 °C and flowers over a long period. Plants are available from nurseries and garden centres, both retail and by mail order. 30-40 cm high. Verities include
- Gerbera ‘Garvinea Sweet Caroline’, ‘Garvinea Sweet Love’ and ‘Garvinea Sweet Surprise’, and come in red, pink, yellow and orange
- Gerbera F1 ‘Revolution Bicolour Mixed’ – earliest to flower, compact-growing and uniform in size with a range of bright bicoloured flowers. 20-30 cm high
- Gerbera F1 ‘Mega Revolution’ is early flowering and bushy, with a range of single flowers in vivid shades. 30-40 cm high.