The colourful flowering plant from the family of composite plants (Asteraceae) bears the same name in Latin and German – Gerbera. The Dutch botanist Jan Frederik Gronovius named the genus of South African ornamental plants, initially known as “African Asters”, in 1737 after his German colleague Traugott Gerber. Shortly afterwards, Carl von Linné’s ornamental plants were included in the botanical nomenclature. Originally, the colorful Gerbera come from sunny (South) Africa, Asia and Madagascar. Of the 30 different species, there are some that can be kept indoors as potted plants. Almost all varieties available today that are cultivated as cut flowers or houseplants are hybrids.
The colourful Gerbera has a stocky, stable growth, long flower stems and rich green, slightly hairy leaves. She’s training a rhizome. Since the plants – with the exception of some new varieties such as Gerbera Garvinea, which can withstand temperatures down to minus five degrees Celsius – are not hardy outdoors, Gerbera can only stand outside for several years in the Mediterranean climate. Therefore, our plants are available as cut flowers and in potted form.
One inflorescence rises from each of the leaf axils of the stem leaves arranged in basal rosettes. Gerbera’s slightly hairy leaves are elongated and reverse ovoid to reverse lanceolate, sometimes almost round with wavy or serrated edges. Depending on the variety, the leaves are simple, pinnate or pinnately lobed. Gerbera’s dark green foliage is parchment-like, sometimes leathery.
On each flower stem there is a single, large capitulum flower, which feels velvety soft. The variety of colours of the marguerite-like flowers ranges from white to yellow, pink and orange to red. Apart from blue and violet, every colour is represented among the Gerbera breeds. Very attractive are bicoloured, semi-double and double breeds.
The Gerbera needs a very bright location, preferably full morning or evening sun, at around 20 degrees Celsius. Under no circumstances should the warmth-loving plant be exposed to draughts. In summer she enjoys a warm, sheltered place on the terrace or balcony, where she spreads tropical flair between oleanders and orange trees. A moderately warm place in the house with a temperature between 15 and 18 degrees Celsius is sufficient for wintering.
The ideal substrate for Gerbera is as sandy and loose as possible, with good water permeability. The easiest way is to use pot plant soil mixed with sand.
In general, the gerbera likes to stand moist in the pot, but it must not form stagnant moisture. Therefore, they should be watered more in summer than in winter and sprayed from time to time to ensure a sufficiently high humidity. Attention: Always water around the plant and not over the middle, otherwise the gerbera will easily rot. Alternatively, the Gerbera can also be dipped or poured over the coaster.
During the main flowering period from April to September, the plant should be supplied with little liquid fertilizer for flowering plants every 14 days. From October, the Gerbera goes into hibernation and should then no longer be fertilized.
If the gerbera feels at home as a houseplant, it is very vigorous. If it turns out that the old pot is strongly rooted, it should be repotted into a slightly larger pot after wintering in spring. A loose, fertile substrate with a sand content is particularly suitable for this. Drainage at the bottom of the pot prevents waterlogging. Tip: For the special effect, choose a plant pot that emphasises the colour of the flowers and stands out from the green of the Gerbera leaves.
The leaves of the gerbera should not be cut, but the flower stems can occasionally be removed for bouquets. You should remove flowered parts of pot and bedding plants regularly. Gerbera stems are not cut, but pulled out of the leaf rosette with a clockwise turn and a strong jerk. Tip: Cut Gerbera in the vase will last the longest if there is very little water in the vase and this is replaced regularly as the stems of the Gerbera rot easily. Cut the flower stems in the vase regularly.
If the room air is very dry, you should spray the Gerbera leaves from time to time with a little lime-free water – also to prevent spider mites. Although it is possible to let the gerbera flower all year round, this weakens the plant in the long run and at some point it loses its flowering power. It is therefore advisable to give the Gerbera a winter break in a bright but cooler location. Do not fertilize during this time and water very sparingly. Thus the beautiful flowering plant will be stimulated to new, luxuriant blooms again in the next year.
Whether fruit, vegetable and ornamental plants in the garden or indoor plants in the house: spider mites can infest and damage many different plants. Here René Wadas, a herbalist, will tell you his tips on how you can effectively fight the arachnids.Credits: Production: Folkert Siemens; Camera: Fabian Primsch; Editing: Dennis Fuhro, Photos: Flora Press/FLPA, GWI
There are now several hundred varieties of the popular cut flower, most of which were created by crossing Gerbera jamesonii and Gerbera viridifolia, but also other species. The Gerbera varieties are distinguished in the trade according to their size. Mini Gerbera (for example Gerbera ‘Whisper’ in bright pink, ‘Terra Chantie’ in yellow with a black eye or the pure white ‘Albin’), also called Germini, have six to eight centimeters small flowers, while those of the standard Gerbera measure about 13 centimeters. The Gerbera hybrids of the giant group impress with their long stems and up to 15 centimeter large, colourful flowers. They are the most popular cut flowers. The stuffed Gerbera Pomponi ‘Blackpearl’ shows a wine red pompon flower. The fluffy, frayed Orange Spider has an interesting, wild look.
If you live in a winegrowing climate and want to try out Gerbera in the open air, you have to choose the moderately hardy Gerbera Garvinea varieties. The Everlast series is weatherproof and tolerates cold days in spring as well as early cold spells in autumn. Attention: Cheap plants offered in supermarkets or DIY stores are often slow-growing and short-lived. Therefore, it is better to choose varieties from the specialist trade so that you can enjoy your Gerbera for a long time. As a rule, the plants are available in the pot as early as January.
Gerbera is propagated in autumn or early spring by sowing or in late winter by dividing the roots of older plants. Simply lift the whole plant out of the pot and cut or pluck it apart in the middle. Warning: Gerbera seeds quickly lose their germination capacity, so they should not be stored for too long. In summer, Gerbera cuttings can be rooted in the glass with very little water.
Diseases and pests
The typical plant disease of Gerbera is the so-called Gerbera rot, which occurs mainly during waterlogging and eutrophication. Here the plant starts to rot and the leaves turn unhealthy, mostly grey-brown or pale green. In case of infestation with rot, the plant can only be disposed of. Powdery mildew, white fly, spider mites and aphids also occur in the case of incorrect location and care errors. If the Gerbera does not flower for a long time, the location is probably too dark.