What You Need To Know About Gerbera Care
Gerbera care can be a somewhat difficult task for the average gardener, but once one is familiar with the needs of this exceptionally beautiful flower, care will become second nature. Most people when asked, have not heard of the gerbera daisy, which is a little surprising, as it is one of the most popular of all cut flowers. Only roses, chrysanthemums, tulips, and carnations are more popular as cut flowers. Seeing the gerbera in a bouquet of cut flowers, and one thinks, "What a lovely daisy". A vase life of up to 14 days contributes to the popularity of the gerbera daisy as a cut flower.
Good Soil Is Key - Why is gerbera care so difficult? Difficult may not be quite the right word, but there are a number of things that need to be done just right for this plant to flourish in the garden. Like most flowers, the gerbera daisy likes full sun. No problem there. It also prefers a rich well-drained soil, and fares poorly in a heavy clay soil. If necessary, prepare a mix of good soil, peat moss, and compost, and plant the gerbera in raised beds or containers to get the very best performance.
Water Properly - Watering is one of the greater challenges as far as gerbera care is concerned. The soil must be kept moist, but the plant must not be over watered. Watering early in the day, usually every day, is best, as the soil should be allowed to dry at the surface before the next watering. The plant should not be watered from overhead, but watering needs to be done at the base of the plant to avoid crown rot which can easily happen with overhead watering. Improper watering, or uneven watering can also affect the flower production of this normally highly producing plant.
Propagation - Gerbera daises can be started from seed or propagated from root cuttings or root division, usually done in the spring. While growing the plant from seed is easy, the seeds themselves only have a shelf life of about 2 months once removed from the seed pods. In the normal course of events, the plants will seed themselves readily if spent flowers and seed pods are not removed.
Fertilize Often - When planting gerbera daisies from seedlings, it's important that no soil be allowed to cover the crown. The plants will still grow, but the end result is likely to be a healthy crop of foliage with few or no blossoms. Also the gerbera is a bit more fussy about being fertilized than is the case with many other garden flowers. An annual application of Ironite works wonders with the plant, but it really needs a side dressing of fertilizer every two weeks during the blooming period to get optimum results. Like other perennials, it will tend to continue blooming as long as the spent flowers are promptly removed.
Many Species And Cultivars - There are nearly 30 species of gerbera growing in the wild plus several thousand cultivars. The flowers come in a variety of colors, and many gardeners choose to grow several different species at once to take advantage of the huge variety. The flower is characterized by a large capitulum, surrounded by ray florets. Rather than being a single flower, the capitulum actually consists of hundreds of tiny, individual flowers. The blossoms range of from 7 cm to 12 cm in diameter, depending of course on the species.
Gerbera daisies are a favorite of florists, and there are some very stringent gerbera care practices followed in handling and shipping the cut flowers. Whether home grown, or coming from the florist as a cut flower, the gerbera daisy is certainly well worth any trouble taken in getting it from a seed to the vase.