Gerbera daisies display vivid colors and have a striking appearance. The fifth most popular bouquet flower in the world, following roses, carnations, mums and tulips, it's easy to grow "Gerber" daisies in your yard.
Gerbera daisies originate in the former Transvaal province of South Africa, and are commonly called Transvaal daisies and African daisies as a result. The name African daisy can prove somewhat misleading, however; osteopermums, a genus in the daisy family, are called African daisies as well. Discovered by Scotsman Robert Jameson in 1884, Gerbera daisies received their scientific name -- Gerbera jamesoni -- in his honor. "Gerber" refers to German naturalist and plant collector Traugott Gerber.
Gerber daisies, close relatives of sunflowers and asters, are considered perennials given the proper conditions. The plants need warm year-round temperatures to survive the winter, given their South African origins. Gerbers will perennialize, appearing year after year, in USDA zones 9 through 11. In zones 7 and 8, Gerbers will die off at frost, reappearing again around mid-April. Use of a winter mulch that does not compress and mat, such as pine needles, helps insulate Gerbers in winter, improving their chance of survival.
Gerbers are only a "tender perennial" because they cannot survive harsh winters. Gardeners in northern zones instead grow Gerber daisies as annuals and replant fresh flowers each spring. Some enthusiasts choose to dig the plants up and bring them in for the winter. Given the approximately 300 varieties of Gerbers, with new ones developed each year, starting over each year simply gives gardeners a chance to experiment each spring.
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