The Daisies Flower
There are lots of different types of flowers we call daisies. There's common daisies, African daisies, and Shasta daisies, to name a few. In fact, there's a whole family of plants that is known as the daisy family. The more scientific name for that family is Asteraceae.
The Asteraceae family is divided into smaller groups, one of which is the Gerbera genus. Any flower in the Gerbera genus could be called a gerber daisy. But usually when people use that term, they're thinking of the species Gerbera hybrida.
There's a lot of history buried in those two words. First of all, the word "Gerbera" comes from a historical figure, Traugott Gerber. Gerber was a German botanist who traveled throughout Europe studying plants.
His friend, Carolus Linnaeus, pioneered the system of scientific names that is still used today.Their connection was most likely a main reason why the species was named in Gerber's honor.
The word "hybrida" tells us that the species is a hybrid, or mix, of two other species. Those two species are Gerbera jamesonii and Gerbera viridifloria.
There's also some interesting history behind the word "daisy" itself. It's a contraction of the phrase "day's eye". The flower got that name because the petals of European varieties close at night and open in the morning.
The two species that were crossed to create Gerbera hybrida both originated in South Africa. Other wild Gerbera daisies can be found in South America and in the tropical regions of Asia.Cultivated species of Gerber daises are grown all over the world.
Description and Characteristics
Physically, gerbera daisies are characterized by large blossoms. Their flowers can grow to be four inches in diameter. At the center of the daisy petals, there is a yellow disk.
Gerbera blossoms are composed of two rows of petals. While they have the appearance of being a single flower, they are actually made up of many smaller flowers.
The plant as a whole can grow to be approximately one foot tall. Generally, their width comes to just under one foot.
The stems of gerbera daisies typically grow to between a foot and a foot and a half. Their leaves can be eight to ten inches in length. Generally, the leaves are coarse, with small amounts of hair.
The most common colors are orange, yellow and red. Keep in mind though that there are a lot of varieties of gerber daisies. You can easily find white daisies, pink daisies, and light purple daisies alongside the more common yellow daisies.
Probably because of their bright colors, gerber daisies rank as the fifth highest flower in terms of world popularity. The meanings assigned to them can't hurt either; gerber daisies are said to symbolize innocence, purity, and cheerfulness.
All different types of daisies share the traditional meanings of purity, innocence and beauty. For gerber daises, cheerfulness is added as a meaning as well. It's easy to see why, with the large variety of big, brightly colored blossoms produced by these flowers.
Here are some meanings assigned to specific colors:
- Dark pink: Gratitude
- Light pink: Admiration, sympathy, friendship
- Orange: Warmth, creativity
Cultivation and Care
Gerber daisies can be planted outdoors or indoors. The standards of care are different in different locations.
For outdoor flowers, be sure to plant them in an area that gets plenty of sun. It's best to space the separate plants about a foot apart. The ideal soil for gerbera daisies contains plenty of sand or loam. They need soil which will drain well and not hold an excess of water.
In terms of watering, you want the soil to remain evenly moist during the periods the plant is in bloom. When the plant is not in bloom, let the soil dry a little bit before you water them again.
Keep in mind the climate that you are in. While gerbera daisies can tolerate a frost or two, a long bout of below freezing temperatures will kill them. They also struggle in temperatures in the 80s or 90s.
Gerber daises are classified as perennials in zones 9 through 11. In other zones they can still be grown as annuals.
For outdoor and indoor gerbera daisies, regular fertilization is important. It is best to give them fertilizer once every two weeks or so. Water based plant food is the recommended type of fertilizer to use.
If you want to keep gerbera daisies in your house, be sure to find a place that gets plenty of sunlight throughout the door. You may even want to consider adding some artificial light. Gerbera daisies won't bloom if they don't get enough light.
Getting indoor daisies to bloom and maintain their flowers for long is often a challenge. Indoor gerber daisy care requires a bit of determination in order to achieve successful, beautiful plants. Be sure to keep the plants in plenty of light, warm but not too warm, and the soil evenly moist.
Consider misting your indoor gerbera daisies, as they prefer to maintain an average humidity. However, do not spray directly on the blooms. Little grooming is required for gerber daisies. Simply remove dead leaves and withered flowers.
Diseases and Pests
As with any houseplant, if you overwater gerber daisies you're in danger of giving them fungus. Luckily, however, fungus can be easily avoided by adopting a moderate watering scheme.
The other main potential disease is crown rot. This is also caused by overwatering. It can be fatal, so be careful not to overwater your gerbera daisies. Crown rot can sometimes be caused by planting the flower too deeply.
One way to protect against crown rot is to plant the flower in the smallest appropriate pot and then frequently repot as necessary. The best time to repot gerbera daisies is in April. Make sure when you repot that the crown of the plant is above the level of the soil.
The most common insect that attacks these plants is the whitefly. As the name suggests, these bugs are white flies, similar in basic appearance to a housefly. They are considerably smaller though. They are typically seen flying around the plant, but can also be spotted on the backs of leaves.
Dealing with whiteflies usually requires the application of pesticide or insecticide. Depending on how bad the problem is, you may need to make repeated applications to fully be rid of these pests.
Gerbera daisies are also vulnerable to common plant pests such as aphids and spider mites. These insects can often be deal with simply by picking them off with your fingers. If that doesn't work, try gently washing the plant with soapy water.
There are not too many additional pests to worry about for outdoor gerber daisies. The bright colors of the flowers can attract beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies. They can also draw birds, which is a great plus for birdwatchers. Deer and other animals that like to nibble on leaves are generally repelled by the coarseness of gerbera daisy leaves.
The primary use for gerbera daisies is as an ornamental plant. People cultivate these flowers both in outdoor gardens and as houseplants.
Gerber daisies are also frequently used as cut flowers. Daisy bouquets are quite popular as gifts and decorations.
Another interesting use of this plant is as a model in classrooms and colleges, in order to educate students on the process of flower formation. Gerbera daisies are useful for this because their large size makes the different parts of a flower easy to see.
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