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Daisies: How to Plant and Care for Your Gerbera Plant

One of the most popular flowers available, a daisy or gerbera plant is a carefree and adaptable choice for your garden.  Once you know how to start seeds, plant out and care for this flower, it will soon become your favorite.

Gerbera daisies have an open, friendly face with petals fanned out in a circular shape and a button center.  They usually grow to a bloom size of 3 ½ to 5 inches across.  The daisy is an almost universal symbol for cheerful gardening.  Available in many colors of the rainbow including red, yellow, orange, pink and white, there is sure to be a daisy that suits your fancy.  In warmer climates they are perennial and even in colder zones, they thrive well as an annual.

They are especially suitable for cut flowers or growing indoors as a potted plant.  NASA actually named the gerbera on its list of plants that provide indoor filtering, making the air inside your home healthier.  A gerbera plant will last a long time in a pot or vase and is also attractive when dried.

Daisies start well from seed indoors and out.  If you’re seeding outdoors, be sure it is warm enough and plant in full sun.  For indoor seed starts, use peat pellets in a spot with high humidity and warm temperatures (68 to 72 degrees).  Look for seeds that are plump as that indicates fertility.  Be sure to keep the peat moist as the seed germinates and keep it covered to maintain humidity until at least three full leaves have sprouted.

Once ready to go outside (depending on exterior temperatures and age of the seedling – usually six weeks after germination), be sure to plant them in a sunny spot.  Since gerbera plants are members of the same family as the sun flower, they thrive in 6 or more hours of sun each day.  More sun means more blooms.  In hot, southern climates you will want to make sure that they stay watered and don’t have too much direct sunlight or they will burn and wilt.

Also make sure that you’ve planted your daisies in well drained soil.  They don’t enjoy heavy clay and can be planted on slopes.  If you keep them in pots or indoors, make sure the pots are well drained, such as by poking holes in the bottom or using a multi-layered pot.  Daisies do not like soaking roots. 

Keep the crown (spot where the stem meets the roots) just above the soil.  This will help to inhibit rot.  Use a good quality mulch to maintain moisture and prevent too many weeds.

Try and fertilize or feed your gerbera plant about every two weeks.  This will allow for full blooming potential.  The flowers will stay bright and plentiful for much longer if your daisy is fed well.  Use a general plant food in liquid form or a slow release plant food sprinkled in the soil around your daisy.

One important thing to remember about the gerbera plant is the step of deadheading.  This is when you snip or clip the spent blooms from the stem, promoting better health and continuous bloom.  Use sharp pruners or scissors to snip just below the flower head.  This will direct the plant’s energy back down resulting in more buds.  When harvesting for cut flowers make sure to cut the stem at an angle and remove any remaining leaves before putting it in water.

Sometimes a gerbera plant can fall victim to mildew or fungus.  This could mean that the humidity level is too high where the plant is growing.  Either move the pot or transplant the flower to a different location in your garden.  Also watch for mites, aphids and leaf miners.  Use a good quality insecticide soap to discourage these pests.

Your gerbera plant will thrive with these tips and plenty of loving care by you.  Then you can enjoy the sunny blooms for many years to come.


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