Flowers & Garden


Gerbera Daisies | colorful blooms | Flowers for Bouquets

Gerbera Daisies used to be called Transvaal Daisy, and you may see that name from time to time in catalogs or on labels. It's another of the flowers we've acquired from South Africa and it's well-suited to our Southern California climate, whether in the hot inland valleys or along the coast.

The wild form, before plant breeders started working on it, was an orange red color, and today we have white, pink, red, orange, ivory and shades and tints of all these colors. Many of these are hybrids from the old original and have more colors, are stronger growers, and produce bigger flowers.

The plants have long, lobed leaves, and the flowers are borne on top of long stems making them suitable for cutting. We always see them in bouquets the florist prepares, but we can grow ones that easily rival what the florist has.

Gerbera likes well drained soil, and the crown should never stand in water. It helps to fertilize two to three times a year, and disease and insects aren't usually a problem. The big flowers have a daisy-like form, and many can be 2 to 4 inches across. Some of the newer hybrids have duplex petals, and there are some strains that are double.

One of the best is called California Duplex, or simply California Mixture, and another, a dwarf variety used mostly in containers, is called Happipot. The oldest hybrid is called Jamesonii, and it's still around.

You can grow gerbera from seed, but it's a slow process and care must be taken in getting good germination. Nurseries and garden centers usually have gerbera in gallon sizes, sometimes in 4-inch pots. Mature plants can be divided after the main bloom period, early spring through summer, to make additional plantings. In mild climates such as ours, most gerbera will produce a few blooms all year long.

Gerbera likes to be crowded, and performs best when the crown is kept well above the soil and kept dry. Good soil and frequent feeding helps to promote growth and better blooms.

When cutting flowers for a bouquet, take the longest stems you can find and slit the stem at the bottom, up about an inch, to hold them longer in water.


Plant: Gerbera
Best features: Big, colorful daisy-like blooms
Degree of difficulty: Easy to grow from started plant or divisions
When to plant: Start seed early in spring, set plants in anytime
Where to plant: Full sun, will tolerate a little shade
Soil specifications: Good soil
Fertilizer and water: Fertilize at regular intervals, water when they dry out