Q. I enjoy flower arranging and am always on the look out for something new. A florist arrangement that I received contained gerbera daisy. What can you tell me about them?

A. Gerber daisy, Gerbera jamesonii, a long-time florist favorite, is readily available through a variety of sources for the home flower garden. The expense of these plants has turned many a gardener away. However with proper attention, the reward will be worth the investment.

Gerberas are versatile plants which provide a pleasing show in containers, in the summer border, or as cut flowers. The flowers can last as long as two weeks when cut. It is usually best to purchase started plants rather than seeds since their germination is erratic. A good routine for buying and maintaining gerberas is to purchase budded plants as soon as available in spring to be used indoors. Once the threat of frost has passed, transplant them outdoors into beds or larger containers for summer show. In the fall, the plants can be dug or left in the container and brought indoors for winter bloom if placed in a cool, sunny window. This system works well in most of the state but gardeners near the coast can usually leave their gerberas outdoors year round and treat them as perennials.

Once established, gerberas have vigorous deep reaching root systems; therefore, they should be transferred to larger containers once each year. When provided full sun and moist soil, gerberas can remain an attractive plant for many years.

Q: When is the best time of the year to divide daises?

A: Divide when plants are dormant just before a new season of growth or in the fall so they can become established before the ground freezes.

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