Gerbera daisy plants refer to easily recognizable flowers in the Asteraceae family. Gerbera daisies can bloom in any season and come in a range of bright colors — including red, orange, pink, salmon, yellow and white. The flowers have blooms measuring 3.5 to 5 inches and thin stems. There are about 70 species of gerbera flowers, which are related to sunflowers, dandelions and marigolds.
Gerbera daisies originated in South Africa. They were discovered in 1880 by Robert Jameson, a Scotsman who operated a mine in South Africa. North American horticulturists began breeding gerbera daisies in the 1920s. Most cut gerbera daisies are grown in the Netherlands and Colombia; California and Florida also grow gerbera daisies. Gerbera daisies have been cultivated to a variety of sizes.
Gerbera daisies are technically considered perennials, but are usually grown as annuals. They can be grown in greenhouses or outside. Gerbera daisies require rich, well-drained soil with a high ratio of organic material and a pH between 5.5 and 6.2. They grow well in full sun or slight shade. It’s easier to grow gerbera daisies from seedlings than from seeds (which take 14 to 18 weeks to develop into flowers). Gerbera daisies can also be propagated through division.
Gerbera daisies are susceptible to several insects, including aphids, leaf miners, whiteflies and spider mites. They also sometimes develop fungal and viral diseases, including powdery mildew, gray mold and necrotic spot virus. Overwatering gerbera daisies increases their risk of fungal diseases. Humid and stagnant air also contributes to disease. Proper air circulation is important for gerbera daisies grown in a greenhouse.
Gerbera daisies are frequently used in floral arrangements for gifts and weddings. Potted daisies are also used as gifts. Some species of gerbera daisies, such as the Transvaal daisy, are used as ornamental plants in gardens.