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Gerbera Jamesonii

Gerbera Jamesonii - The African Daisy

Gerbera Jamesonii, better known as the African daisy, is an extremely attractive flowering plant, with blossoms coming in a number of colors. Gerbera Jamesonii is a native of South Africa, and in several other places as well, and is also known as the Transvaal daisy and the Barbeton daisy, both being the names of areas within the Republic of South Africa.

Gerbera Jamesonii is a member of the family Asteraceae, the Daisy family, and the Genus Gerbera. The Gerbera genus consists of approximately 30 different species, most of which are found in southern Africa, although a few species are native to Asia and South America. The scientific designation Jamesonii is attributed to Robert Jamison, who collected the wild plants in the late 19th century for the purpose of cultivation. Gerbera Jamesonii is a tender perennial, grown in many places as an annual. The African daisy is hardy in USDA Zones 9 to 11. The plant will sometimes survive a light frost, but usually will not survive a freeze. In any location however it will make a fine greenhouse plant, and in such an environment may bloom most of the year. In warm climates however, this daisy can be quite spectacular as a bedding plant, and is a good companion plant to many other kinds of flowers, asters being a particular favorite of many.

Culture - Normally the plant blooms twice during the year, once in the spring, and again in the fall. The flower petals may be red, orange, pink or cream, the inner flowers of the disk always being cream colored. This daisy enjoys worldwide popularity, both as a cut flower and as a potted plant. As a garden flower it is restricted to mostly warmer climates. It can be grown from seeds, or propagated by crown division. When grown as a perennial, the crowns are usually divided in the spring. Like many garden flowers, Gerbera Jamesonii prefers full sun and well drained soil. When setting out the plants, one must be careful not to cover the crowns with soil, or crown rot will likely set in, destroying the plant. Removing spent blossoms will encourage further blooming, but one needs to be careful about removing damaged or disease leaves. Leaf removal can stress the plant, at times killing it in the process. It's best to put up with unsightly leaves until they are completely dead, at which time it is safe to remove them.

Gerbera Jamesonii is a long rooted plant, and as such prefers a soil that has been worked fairly deeply. If can withstand some dry conditions, but cannot be described as being a drought-tolerant plant, and does need to be watered during dry periods. If planted in Zones 8 or lower, the plant can be kept the year around if placed in pots and taken indoors during the winter months. They will flower during the winter, though not as profusely as during the summer months, and may cease flowering completely for a time. Most gardeners prefer simply to treat the plant as an annual, and start new plants from seed in the spring, or purchase them in pots. Seeds can be collected for use the following year, though the colors of the blossoms of the new plants may not always be completely predictable.

Gerbera Jamesonii is not terribly demanding or difficult to grow, and whether grown as an annual or a perennial adds a great deal of color to the garden, as well as providing a fairly constant and dependable source of cut flowers. Even when grown as an annual, potting a plant or two in the fall and allowing them to overwinter can add a nice dash of bright color to a window sill when skies are cloudy and grey.


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