Why Can’t I Grow Gerberas?

August 31, 2010 | By | Comments (12)


Gerbera 001

A gerbera daisy is about the prettiest, most striking flower around. It It flaunts five-inch blossoms in vivid colors of red, orange, coral, pink, yellow, and cream. It has just one itty-bitty problem. You can’t keep the damn thing alive.

Native to the Transvaal region of South Africa (which gives the plant its other common name, Transvaal daisy), gerberas (Gerbera jamesonii ) feature single or double flowers that rise on stems above tufts of foliage that look a little like sorrel. They’re supposedly perennial in the Coastal and Tropical South (Zones 9 and 10) and treated as annual elsewhere.

Frankly, from my experience and that of many readers, they ought to be treated as “daily.”

The problem seems to be our rainfall and humidity. See, the climates of South Africa and the Southeastern U.S. don’t exactly match. Gerberas don’t like heavy, wet soil and our summer downpours. They rot faster than cheap siding.

Grumpy would guess that gerbera is one of those plants that grows much better in a container than in the ground (unless your soil is sandy), because you can give it perfect drainage,

Still, a lifetime measured in minutes does have a positive side. You know how you agonize about what to get your mother for Mother’s Day, because she’s 80 years old and has everything already and you know she’s never touched the quiche maker, fruit dehydrator, or build-your-own casket kit you gave her years before? Gerbera daisy is your salvation. You can give her one this year and be absolutely sure it’ll be dead by next year, so you can give her another one.

If any of you know secrets to successfully keeping gerbera daisies alive for more than a week, please enlighten the rest of Grumpy’s readers.

Of course, if you do, we’ll all have to find something else to give our mothers. Rats!


Bonus Gardening Advice Dispensed on a Variety of Topics With 100% Accuracy!

It is Grumpy’s nature to give and give and give some more. So here are eye-opening and life-fulfilling answers to some of your gardening questions of the day.

Hostas: I have some 4-year old hostas that are getting a bit unruly. They are basically HUGE. When is the best time to separate them without killing the plants? Laura

Grey Horse 6-10 009_picnik

Grumpy responds: Not now when the afternoon temps are still hitting the 90’s. Wait until the fall when the foliage is starting to wither and turn yellow. Or wait until next spring when the new shoots popping up are just a couple of inches high.

Rabbits: How do I get rid of rabbits in my yard? Dode


Grumpy responds: I weally wesent wascally wabbits wunning woughshod awound my wesidence wobbing my wadiant wed wadishes, wipe ‘Woma’ tomatoes, and scwumptious Bwussels spwouts!  So my fwiend, Elmer Fudd, watches 24-7, weady to wet woose with a wolley from his wapid-fire weapon! You can also use a wabbit wepellent like Rabbit Scram and Liquid Fence or even Hot Pepper Wax awound your pwants. Wabbit twaps work well and are weadily available.

Lawn woes: We want to kill our weed-laden and eroded lawn, amend the soil, and reseed with bluegrass or tall fescue in September. Is there a friendly way to strip the yard bare? Do you have any recommendations for how to get rid of one lawn and start a new one in its place? Melinda in Virginia

Grumpy responds: First, spray your existing lawn according to label directions with Roundup. This will kill all the existing grass and weeds in about a week. Then reapply to spots you missed before. After everything is dead, amend the soil, seed it, and keep the soil moist. Apply a seed-starter fertilizer after the grass germinates. You’ll have to seed again in the spring to thicken the lawn, especially if you use fescue, which doesn’t spreads by runners as bluegrass does.


  1. Travisml

    back, and for half a heartbeat she feared they had caught her. A vixen burst from the

    “Casterly Rock has more gold,” one brother objected.

    May 1, 2016 at 1:59 am
  2. Shane from plants for hire

    Good to read your article.
    I got some useful stuff from your site. I enjoyed reading the post.
    Keep up with your good work.

    February 22, 2011 at 1:58 am
  3. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Gerberas are very finicky to grow. I can only hazard a guess at the cause of your problem, but if new flowers continue to be distorted, they may be infested with mites. The solution is to pick off and discard the infested flowers and spray the plants according to label directions with insecticidal soap. Or just toss the plants and buy new ones.

    December 20, 2010 at 1:25 pm
  4. Shirley Osmond

    Sir, I have several gerberas in pots and they seem to start to grown normally, then seem to stunt and have a large centre but very short petals. Can you help please. We are growning them in potting mix.

    December 20, 2010 at 1:38 am
  5. Don

    I’ve had Gerbers come back year after year. I’m in Zone 7b/8a with very sandy soil. So, Grumpy, you’re on to something with the soil. I remember an article you wrote once where you stated Gerbers need frequent watering… standing over them 24hrs a day would be nice. LOL! (or something to that effect).

    November 24, 2010 at 11:21 am
  6. David D

    Here in Houston, I’ve had pretty good luck with them in a 2″ raised bed, sort of sloping towards a drainage ditch with partial summer shade. I had a terrible problem with fungus/mildew until I started using cedar for mulch around the Gerbers

    November 12, 2010 at 12:20 pm
  7. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    It sounds like my suspicions about too much water and heavy soil are correct. But then, my suspicions always are. I’m the Grumpy Gardener.

    September 2, 2010 at 11:08 am
  8. MFH

    I too had good luck with planting Gerbera daisy in a pot on my deck. I’m in zone 8 in SC and it came back for three years. Last winter was colder than normal here and it didn’t make a return appearance.

    September 2, 2010 at 12:34 am
  9. Henry H.

    Some of ours in SE Georgia(8b) stay put through the frost and do quite well next year but need some encouragement to re-bloom. We do however have very, very sandy soil. My best Gerbera story follows:
    I was gettin out of my truck at the GA Power office to pay my outrageous “new-summer-rates” bill when I spotted a bloom in a bed of Juniper procumbens. Obviously intrigued I walked over to investigate. There was one single Gerbera bloom raising out of the sea of 1/4″ prickly leaves. The leaves were about 10″ long and lay jumbled up about 2″ below the JunPro leaves. I walked inside to ask Mrs. Douglas, who had been there forever, about it. She said, “You know I planted that there about 8 years ago. Why? Is it blooming????” I was shocked to say the least!!!! This thing is obviously some kind of mutant Gerbera but it’s still there making this plant about 10 years-old now…..
    Go figure…… Still waiting for a GA Power exec. to stroll in and buy something from me so I can charge my “new summer rates”
    Fair is fair right??!?!?!

    September 1, 2010 at 3:05 pm
  10. gardenwalkgardentalk

    I agree with Heide. The darn plants like neglect. Hard to do when surrounded with thirsty water hogs like cleome and hydrangea in a garden. Learned the expensive way, keep them in pots on the porch.

    September 1, 2010 at 1:48 pm
  11. Katy

    I had an outside planter in a house I used to rent in which I never had a problems growing Gerberas (did treat them as annuals though). It was a rectangular elevated cement planter – a confirmation that they’re better grown in pots?

    August 31, 2010 at 4:36 pm
  12. Heidi

    I have a Gerbera Daisy and have had it since March. I’ve had my problems with it by putting it outside but once I brought it back inside and “neglected it” by not watering frequently and placing it my front window its been happy as can be. I now have 3 new blooms. I also make sure I trim the yellowing leaves and some of the excess leaves. It’d look like a fern if it didn’t flower every few months.

    August 31, 2010 at 3:40 pm

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