gerbera is native to Africa and eastern Asia and is part of the compositae family. There are about 70 species of perennials, herbaceous and semirustic; they are particularly suitable for the production of cut flowers. They are easily cultivated in all regions with a mild climate.
The most commonly cultivated species is the Gerbera jamesonii. This species is native to the region of Transval, in South Africa, it can reach a height of 50-60 cm and a diameter of 60 cm. The leaves of the gerbera jamesonii are lobed, internally tormenting, glaucous green in the upper side, fluffy white on the lower page; they are about 20-40 cm long. The flowers are numerous, isolated, of orange-scarlet color, even 10-12 cm wide. The flowering period is from May to September. Grows in bushes.
There are numerous varieties and hybrids on the market, both with simple flowers and double flowers, with delicate colors and brighter colors.
|Family and gender||Asteraceae family, January Gerbera (contains about 100 species)|
|Type of plant||Perennial deciduous herbaceous, lively|
|Exposure||Sun or partial shade|
|colors||White, yellow, pink, red, orange|
|Flowering||From summer to autumn. It can be forced.|
|Propagation||Seed, division, root cutting|
The plant is small in size. The leaves start from the base and are lanceolate of medium green color. As the season progresses, the older leaves run out and are replaced by the new ones which in the first days are clear and covered with a thick hair. The flower stems are naked, they rise from the base and can even reach 60 cm. The flower has the typical daisy shape, but very regular. The sepals are pointed and the corolla can be single or double. At the center there is a more or less wide ring of stamens, extremely decorative. The flower is found in many colors: white, yellow, red, pink, fuchsia and violet and even a pale green.
the gerberas they can be grown outdoors, in regions with a mild climate throughout the year, or in special containers, in the coldest regions.
The important thing is to take care to place them in a sunny and well sheltered position; if, during the winter period, they are withdrawn inside it is necessary to place them in illuminated environments, where the temperature does not drop below 5-7 degrees.
In any case, the soil must be well drained, light and sandy. Fertilization must, as a rule, be carried out in spring.
occurs from late spring to late summer. It is also possible to obtain winter blooms; for this purpose it is necessary to interrupt the watering in May, thus favoring the rest of the plant during the summer period, and then, in September fertilize and resume watering, constantly and abundantly in the plant, so as to stimulate the vegetative restart.
Multiplication: can take place by seed, by cuttings or by division. The cuttings must be obtained from non-fruit-bearing jets and must be placed in pots containing sandy soil during the spring. Also in the case of division multiplication the practice to be followed is the same. If, instead, the reproduction is by seed, already in February-March the seeds will be planted in the appropriate containers, initially of small dimensions. As the seedling grows, it will take care of repotting it in larger containers.
they should not be too frequent or abundant, as it is preferable for the soil to dry between one watering and another. If watered too frequently or too abundantly, the gerbera becomes vulnerable to root rot.
Aphids may also affect the health of the plant; in this case we recommend the use of one of the many aficidi currently on the market.
These plants are native to most of Africa, Asia and South America. The specimens we find on the market are a cross between the gerbera jamesonii of Natal or Transvaal and the G. viridifolia of the Cape. These hybrids were obtained in England by Lynch in the late 1800s.
The name derives from the German naturalist Traugott Gerber, a friend of Linnaeus.
They are not very rustic plants and in general they do not tolerate that temperatures fall below 5 ° C. It is therefore appropriate to cultivate them in the open ground only where winters are particularly mild. Elsewhere it is strongly advised to keep them in pots to collect them during the winter in a bright room.
However, if grown outside, it is always a good idea to offer them a good winter mulch composed of leaves, manure and straw.
Gerberas love very bright and possibly ventilated positions. Therefore in almost all of Italy it is better to give them exposure to the South. Place them in partial shade can instead be advised in the extreme South of the peninsula because the strong sun can give rise to leaf burns and to the appearance of parasites such as the red spider.
Gerberas prefer sub-acid and draining and slightly calcareous soils. In fact they are particularly subject to radical rot.
If we grow them in the open ground it is therefore good to carefully evaluate our substrate and eventually replace it in the area where we are going to plant them. For added safety, a thick layer of gravel can be placed at the bottom of the planting hole to help the water flow out.
Another problem that could occur is leaf chlorosis, caused by too calcareous soil and therefore with a high pH. You can try to remedy this by dusting the soil with ferrous sulphate or, in more serious cases, proceeding with the administration of chelated iron-based products.
Gerberas are very sensitive to irrigation. We must therefore try to avoid water stagnation in any way either by inserting it in suitable soil or by moderating water supplies.
In general they grow better in dry climates and therefore it would be better to avoid them if we live in mountainous or very humid areas.
To obtain a long flowering period it is advisable to administer a liquid fertilizer for flowering plants with a high content of potassium and phosphorus every 15 days. It is also possible to dilute it more by administering it to each irrigation.
Gerberas in normal conditions bloom from May to late summer. When temperatures drop below 10 ° C they enter the resting phase.
If desired they can be forced. To obtain flowering in winter, watering must be stopped in April-May and stored in a cool place. It will resume watering and feeding the fertilizer in the autumn, placing them in a bright area and with temperatures constantly above 13 ° C. This will favor the vegetative growth and we will succeed in having blooms even in full winter.
Potted cultivation of gerberas
Gerberas are actually rarely grown in gardens. It is actually more common to see them used as houseplants. In fact they are very pleasant both for their very elegant flowers, and for their ability to bloom for a long time and, forcing them, they can delight us even during the winter months.
They are usually sold in very small pots. If we want them to live long it is advisable to put them in a container at least 25 cm deep. It is very important to create a good draining layer on the bottom, often at least two or three centimeters. The soil must be light, but not peaty. The ideal is that it contains clays, pumice and perlite, but not too much peat.
It is absolutely better to avoid the saucer and water when the substrate is dry even in depth.
These plants need, even indoors, very bright positions so it is advisable to place them near a window or a direct light source.
Reproduction of gerbera
Reproduction of gerberas can occur in a variety of ways. Seed is particularly difficult and is used almost exclusively for the production of new cultivars.
First of all it is essential to use fresh seeds. In fact, in a short time they lose their vitality and risk not to germinate.
The seed has a feather. It must be buried very little and the feather must be at ground level. It is necessary to use a very light soil mixed with vermiculite or agriperlinte.
They must be sown in boxes or directly in alveoli (they do not particularly like to be re-pierced) which must be kept slightly humid and with a temperature of about 15 ° C. They usually germinate in one or two weeks.
When they have reached a good development, they can be transferred into 8-10 cm diameter jars and then planted when the roots are clearly visible from the bottom of the pot.
The best time is autumn, but good results can also be achieved with a spring sowing.
However, the most widely used method is the division of the heads. It is usually done at the end of winter or in August-September.
A healthy plant is extracted from the soil, without ruining the roots. We then look for young shoots, try to remove them from the mother plant and then cut them using a very sharp spade or blade.
It is advisable to put them in the pot initially, waiting for them to recover and begin to vegetate.
Later they can also be placed in the open ground.
A further method for reproducing them can be the removal from the mother plant of a section of a rhizome. The important thing is that each part taken is equipped with capillary roots and at least one eye.
After having taken them they must be planted just below the ground level. The soil should be very light to avoid water stagnation to encourage rooting. The ideal therefore is that it consists of a mixture of sand, peat and possibly agriperlite.
The plant does not need great care in this respect. During the vegetative period it is sufficient to remove the leaves which gradually wither. You also need to remove the wilted flowers by simply pulling them to the side, without using leaves.
If the plant is in full ground, seasonal cleaning is required at the end of autumn and the consequent mulching is useful for overcoming the winter period.
Pests and diseases of the gerberas
Gerberas can be attacked by many insects, but aphids are the most frequent. If the attack is not important you can intervene manually. If instead we see that it is the cause of an important debilitation of the plant we can use products based on pyrethrum (useful also for other phytophagous insects).
Most often these plants are affected by collar or root rot. In these cases, as we have already said, it is very important the prevention that takes place with a good choice of the substrate and a controlled irrigation.
However, should this occur, this can be remedied by administering products based on propamocarb or fosetyl aluminum.
It can also happen that the leaves are affected by powdery mildew. It usually happens in periods and in areas where air humidity is very high and if there is little air movement.
If the leaves are very damaged it is certainly a good idea to remove them (to avoid further spreading the infection). You can then intervene with systemic products against oidium or, if there were only traces of infestation, with sulfur.
Care of cut flowers
In recent decades the use of gerbera as a cut flower has become widespread. It is in fact much appreciated for the elegance of its flowers, very regular, for the variety of colors, for the length of the stem and because, if well treated, it can last very long in vase, even several weeks.
To keep our bouquet at its best it is important:
- Put it in a jar as soon as possible
- The water must be clean and therefore must be replaced frequently
- It can be added to water from bleach or a specific product to increase the life of cut flowers
- Care must be taken when handling the stems because they could bend and this would shorten the life of the cut flower
- Periodically it is necessary to intervene by cutting the base of the stems with a sharp scissor removing the ruined part. The ideal is to make an oblique cut which, by increasing the contact surface with the water, facilitates the absorption of liquids.
Red gerbera is one of the most sought-after varieties by flower and gardening enthusiasts. Yellow, orange, red and pink gerberas are easily found on the market by florists and nurseries and the characteristics of the plants in different colors are the same.
To make our red gerbera shine we will have to ensure the plant a lot of sun. The red gerbera is in fact a heliophilous plant that needs to be cultivated in sunny positions and in dry soils.
By ensuring these conditions to the gerberas we will have a greater chance of guaranteeing our plants a beautiful and prolonged flowering.
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