Gerbera jamesonii is one of the most popular of all cut flowers, easily recognised by the elegant large, flower heads with extremely large rays. The large blooms often measure 12 to 16cm (5 to 7in) in diameter and appear in a wide colour range, from whites and delicate pinks to fiery reds, oranges and deep golden yellows.
The flowers are of the very best quality and make excellent cut flowers. They remain fresh for 7 to 14 days, making them great for centre pieces and bridal bouquets.
Gerbera jamesonii ‘Single Flowered Hybrids’ form clumps of lush, green foliage with deeply lobed leaves, it stays low to the ground and blooms with multiple single, strong stemmed flowers that are 30 to 40cm (12 to 16in) tall.
They are perfect for the patio in summer and a sunny windowsill or glasshouse during the cooler months. They originate from South Africa and can be treated as annuals or a perennials depending on your climate.
The plants are heavy feeders, thriving in very well-enriched garden soils and containers. Planted in a position with full sun and supplied with plenty of food and consistent levels of water, they will repay you richly and provide months of vibrant colour.
Sowing: Sow indoors at any time, from January to December
Sow indoors using pots or trays containing a sandy seed starter mix such as John Innes seed compost with added sharp sand. Sow thinly on the surface of the compost and gently firm down. The seeds require light during germination, so do not need to be covered. Some growers use a light cover of coarse vermiculite to maintain a higher humidity around the seed.
Place the pots or trays in a propagator or on near a bright windowsill that receives indirect sunlight. They need to be kept quite warm, the optimal temperature for germination is around 23 to 25°C (73 to 75°F), avoid temperatures above 25°C (75°F). Keep the soil damp but it is important that it is not too wet. Germination usually takes two to three weeks.
When large enough to handle, and roots start to be seen at the base, transplant the seedlings into individual 9cm (3in) pots to grow on. When the seedlings have four true leaves transplant to their final planting position into larger containers or into a greenhouse border. Transplant on time so that plants do not become root-bound. Plant with a spacing of around 30cm (12in) apart.
When planting, it is critical that they not be planted too deep. set the crown of the plant slightly above the soil level so that soil does not wash into the crowns. Rot will occur if the crowns are buried or the drainage is poor.
Water very carefully until established as young plants are particularly susceptible to overwatering, allow the surface of the compost to dry between each watering. Try to water in the morning to avoid water sitting on the growing tips as plants go into the evening period. Good air circulation is also important during this time.
Gerbera are winter-hardy to -2°C (28°F) although they are perennial in warm climates, they are fast growing and can be grown as an annual in cooler climates. They can be grown on a sunny windowsill in the house or planted in containers and moved to a cool greenhouse to overwinter. The plants need well-ventilated conditions with good light. A temperature of 10 to 20°C (50 to 68°F) in the growing season is ideal.
The plants are deep-rooting and don't transplant well once established, so are best grown in large containers or in a deep bed, in a greenhouse or conservatory border. To overwinter the plants indoors, plant them in pots and sink the pots in the soil, removing the pots when the weather turns cooler.
Given a minimum winter night temperature of not below 10°C (50°F), gerbera will flower all year round. In greenhouses at a minimum temperature of 5°C (41°F) they may flower in summer only, from May to October. As perennials, flowering is moderate in the first year following planting, then freely in subsequent years.
Gerbera will thrive in rich gritty and well-drained compost. In containers use a John Innes No 2 potting compost with some extra grit or peat-free multipurpose compost. To grow in a greenhouse border, work in some extra grit and organic matter (peat, coir, leaf mould or well-rotted manure). Crown rot is a common problem, which is caused by planting the crowns too deeply. The crown should be visible above the soil.
Flowers can be produced within four to six months of sowing but young seed-raised plants will usually only flower lightly in their first season. These early flowers can be removed to help build up a vigorous crown. Once established, continue to remove flowers for cut-flower arrangements to provide more energy for new flower bud development rather than flower maintenance.
During the summer months, when the plants are in vigorous growth water them freely keeping them consistently moist and apply a general purpose liquid feed, such as tomato fertiliser at two week intervals to promote flowering. Provide a little shade from the hottest sun. Clean up plants by regularly removing diseased leaves and spent flower stalks. Slugs and snails are partial to the leaves so use methods to prevent these in your garden.
In autumn, move containers of gerbera to a bright, frost free position for the winter month. Reduce watering, keeping the compost on the dry side particularly where growing in unheated conditions. Plants can be returned outdoors during the following spring, once all risk of frost has passed.
Established plants can be divided in March or April as the first signs of new growth are seen. Use healthy plants, dividing the rootstock and crown into four or five pieces each with one growth bud attached. Alternatively, detach young basal shoots, pot them up carefully in sandy compost, and place in a propagator until well rooted, then pot up or plant into a bed or border.
Florists prize the cut flowers of gerbera daisies for their brilliant splashes of bright colour, long cut-stem life and shipping ease.
Cut the flowers when they are fully open. Cut about 3cm (1in) from the bottom of a main stem, at an angle of about 45 degrees as this provides a larger exposed area for the uptake of water. Remove all the lower foliage that would be submerged in water and use a preservative to increase longevity.
Gerberas are sensitive to bacterial blocking that cases the flower heads to droop over. If flowers are properly conditioned, bent necks should not occur, if it does occur it is probably the result of clogged stems due to dirty water. Therefore, clean water and disinfected buckets should be always used. Water should be changed frequently and preservative should be replenished every two days.
To straighten stems, the flowers should be suspended by their heads during the hydration process. This can be done by positioning a wire grid or similar over a bucket of solution, slip the stems through the grid. The flower heads should rest on the grid and the stems be suspended in the water without touching the bottom. This results in straight stems and eliminates the need for wiring.
Patio, Greenhouse, Conservatory, Cut Flower Garden and Flower Arranging.
The genus Gerbera consists of about 30 species which are found in Africa, Madagascar, tropical Asia and South America.
It is indigenous in South Africa and endemic in Mpumalanga and Limpopo Province meaning that it only grows naturally in these two provinces otherwise elsewhere it is cultivated.
It is abundant in the Soutpansberg, on the slopes of the Makonjwa Mountains around Barberton, but also common in the districts of Witbank and Middleburg.
Gerbera jamesonii grows from 500 to 1670 m above sea level in sandy, well-drained soils, in bushveld, on steep rocks with grass, on, dolomite soil, dolerite boulders and soil, stony clays, but also on burnt ground and other dry habitats, usually in some shade or under bushes and trees. Flowering time is mainly from September to December, but it can be found flowering in any month of the year.
The breeding of Gerbera started at the end of the 19th century in Cambridge, England, when Richard Lynch crossed G. jamesonii and G. viridifolia. Most of the current commercially grown varieties originate from this cross. Height and spread varies from 20cm (8in) for dwarf types to 60cm (2ft) for cut flower varieties.
Gerbera are used both as a cut flower and as a pot plant and is one of the most popular ornamental flowers in the world. It is the fifth most used cut flower in the world (after rose, carnation, chrysanthemum, and tulip) and therefore is of considerable economic importance.
Gerbera is also used as a model organism in studying flower formation.
It is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds, but resistant to deer.
In 1737 Jan Frederic Gronovius, a renowned botanist from the Netherlands, established the species Gerbera. It was named after the German medical doctor and botanist Traugott Gerber, (1709-1743) who was employed at the court of Tsarina Anna in Moscow, from where he undertook plant collecting excursions, mainly to eastern parts of Russia.
Anton Rehmann, a botanist who lived in Poland, travelled to Russia, China and twice to South Africa in 1875 to 1880, where he discovered a new Gerbera species in what used to be known as the Transvaal.
Robert Jameson re-discovered the plant in 1886, on his trip to the Transvaal goldfields, Jameson was a merchant from Durban, who heard about the rich gold findings near Barberton in the Transvaal and wanted to see if there were any opportunities for investment. On Moodies Estate he found this beautiful plant with its red flowers and, being interested in botany, he took some samples back with him for the botanical gardens in Durban. It was then suggested that this Gerbera species be named after him as he was also responsible for sending some plants to Irwin Lynch, curator of the botanical gardens in Cambridge, England.
The breeding of Gerbera started at the end of the 19th century in Cambridge, England, when Richard Lynch crossed G. jamesonii and G. viridifolia. Most of the current commercially grown varieties originate from this cross.
Horticulturists from all over world worked with this plant – Adnet in France, Diem in Italy, Jaenicke in New York, Steinau in France, Sprenger in Naples, Engelmann in England and de Ridder in Alsmeer. However, during the First World War most of the Gerbera cultures in Europe died out and it was only after 1922 that cultivation started again in Europe, with great success. During and shortly after the Second World War, the Gerbera cultures declined again, but they persevered and survived.
Common names for this flower include African Daisy, because it’s native to Africa. Barberton Daisy, because it was first discovered near Barberton and Transvaal Daisy, which may require some explaining for those who are not familiar with South African history and geography. Barberton is located to the east of the capital Pretoria, close to Mozambique. The Vaal River runs through that area and the area North of the Vaal is known as the Transvaal (across the Vaal).
- Additional Information
Packet Size 250mg Average Seed Count 60 Seeds Seed Form Natural Family Asteraceae Genus Gerbera Species jamesonii Cultivar Single Flowered Hybrids Common Name African, Barberton or Transvaal Daisy Hardiness Tender Perennial often used as an Annual Natural Flower Time May to August Height 30 to 40cm (12 to 16in) Spread 20 to 30cm (8 to 12in) Position Full sun preferred Soil Most kinds of soil as long as it is well drained.