Gerbera daisies (Gerbera jamesonii) are native to southern Africa. Bright flowers that bloom from summer to frost adorn the perennial plant. The gerbera daisy claims the place of fifth in the world for most popular flowers. People grow the long stemmed flowers primarily for the cut-flower industry.
Gerbera daisies bear the name of Traugott Gerber, but the credit for discovering the plant goes to Robert Jameson of Scotland. In 1884 he found the plant in South Africa while working a gold mine. The gerbera, introduced to North American production in 1920, underwent development making them more suitable for cut flowers. Continued development attempts to achieve continuous flowering on strong stems and vigorous growth.
Gerbera daisies survive in USDA hardiness zone 8. The natural flower color ranges from red, to orange, to yellow. Due to commercial production, the availability of flower colors increased and now includes shades of pink, white, cream and salmon. The gerbera has dark green, glossy leaves. The plant grows 12 to 18 inches high. Gerberas grow from seed or division.
According to Dr. B. C. Wolverton in his book "How to Grow Fresh Air", the gerbera daisy excels in removing chemicals from the air. It also has a high transpiration rate, which increases the humidity in the air. The gerbera makes an attractive houseplant because of its foliage and flowers. The plants will continue to flower indoors given the right growing conditions.
When planted outside, gerbera daisies require full sun. They perform best in well-drained soil due to their susceptibility to root rot. Deep winter mulch protects the plant from damage. When container-grown, a loose potting mix high in organic matter works well. The plant needs a complete and balanced fertilizer while growing. Gerberas thrive in daytime temperatures around 65 degrees F and nighttime temperatures 15 degrees cooler. Airflow, humidity and a partially sunny windowsill give the gerbera the best chance of surviving indoors.
Gerbera daisies suffer damage from mites, aphids and whiteflies if growing conditions lack proper humidity and temperature. Diseases contracted by gerberas include bacterial blight and powdery mildew. Action taken at the first signs of any insect infestation or disease will prevent irreparable damage to the plant. Appropriate pot size, which varies depending on specific cultivars, improves the plant's overall health.