Gerbera flowers are popular daisies that feature large, colorful blooms. Though they're commonly sold potted as gifts, they can make wonderful additions to any flower garden. Plus, when you grow your own gerbera flowers, you'll be able to make beautiful cut flower arrangements. In warm areas such as Florida, gerberas grow perennially, but in cooler regions, they should be treated as annuals. The following tips provide information on how to grow gerbera flowers successfully.
Though gerbera flowers can be started from seed, this can be tricky, as gerberas grown from seed aren't always true to type. This means that their bloom colors and overall size could vary drastically from what the seed package states. For best results, purchase starter plants from your nursery.
When selecting an area for planting, choose a spot that receives full sun. This will ensure your gerbera flowers continue to bloom prolifically. Next, check the soil of the site. If it is heavy or clay-like, you will need to amend it with compost, peat moss and sand. Gerbera flowers grow best in areas with slightly sandy, well-drained soil. Once you've amended the soil, dig holes for your gerbera plants that are about a foot apart. These holes should be twice as wide as the flower's original container but no deeper. Planting any part of the gerbera's stem can cause the flower to rot. After planting the flowers, pack in the remaining soil firmly and water thoroughly. If you'd like, you can mulch the flowers, but be careful that the mulch doesn't touch the plant's stem, as this can cause rot.
Gerberas grow best when they're fertilized regularly, and should be fertilized at least two or three times during the growing season—preferably once a month. Fertilizers high in iron and manganese are best for these flowers. As your gerbera flowers grow, be sure to pinch off faded or wilting blooms. This directs the plant's energy towards producing new flowers, and will maintain the healthy appearance of your plants. Gerberas like to dry out somewhat between waterings, so take extra care not to water too much during periods of rainfall, as this can lead to root rot. When grown as perennials, gerberas will need to be dug up every couple of years to be divided. To do so, split crowns with a sharp knife, remove dead roots and replant flowers immediately.
Gerberas are highly susceptible to a number of pests. Cutworms and caterpillars are one of the most major issues for these plants. The best method for dealing with these pests is to remove them by hand, though an insecticide can be applied if necessary. Spider mites, thrips and leaf miners can also prey on gerbera flowers. In many cases, you can pinch off infected leaves to get rid of the pests. After doing so, spray the plants with a mild solution of dish detergent, vinegar and water. If these solutions don't work and your gerbera flowers are still infected, you may need to resort to insecticide.