We’ve been away recently on two genealogy research trips. After the first one, we came home to a beautiful rich pink gerbera daisy blossom. We were home one week, then gone again. We returned last night from the second trip and, of course, I couldn’t wait for morning to see how my garden had fared while we were away. This time, returned to gerbera blooms in multiple colors, and to lots of white mandevilla flowers. (My mandevilla plants have suffered lately, too, but that’s another story.
Gerbera daisies (Gerbera jamesonii) grow as mounding plants with slightly fuzzy dark green leaves. They bloom with large single flowers are on tall stems. Mine bloomed sporadically during the summer, but are performing beautifully now.
These jewel-toned flowers are considered annuals in most areas, but in Zones 8 – 11, they are grown as perennials. They need plenty of sunlight, but suffer in the harsh afternoon sun of summer, so be sure to plant them where they will have shade or filtered light in the afternoon. When grown in the ground, they will need to be covered if the temperatures drop to freezing or below.
Gerbera’s, like geraniums, are not annuals, but are tender perennials. Tender, because they will survive winter in some milder climates only if protected from freezing temperatures. They prefer rich, well-drained soil, and should be planted with the crown of the plant slightly above ground. Burying the crown could suffocate the plant.
Be sure to deadhead the plants by removing spent blooms and their stems as soon as the flowers fade. This will prevent early seeding — early seeding will tell the plant there is no need to bloom again, as enough seed has already been produced.
If you live in an area where gerberas are grown as annuals, you can always dig them up, and pot them for winter, and reset them outdoors in spring. My mother used to plant her geraniums (shown below) in clay pots, then sink the pots into the ground. When autumn came, she would slip a shovel under the pots, and take them indoors for the winter. She had some of the largest geraniums I have ever seen. Fortunately, here in Florida, I don’t have to do that.