Plant profile: Gerbera daisy

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*Scientific name: Gerbera jamesonii.

*Growth habit: A rounded cluster-forming perennial with a short basal stem from which new leaves, emerge, growing plants 12 inches tall and wide. The leaves are medium to dark green, oblong with lobed to deeply toothed margins and growing to 12 inches long and 4 inches wide.

*Light: Plant in full sun to lightly shaded locations.

*Water needs: Prefers a moist soil; water when the surface begins to dry to the touch.

*Feedings: Apply a general garden fertilizer to in-ground plantings every six to eight weeks during periods of active growth. Feed container plantings with a liquid fertilizer solution every other week. Slow-release products can be substituted following label instructions.

*Propagation: Start new plants from seed or by division of older clumps.

*Ease of culture: Medium; plants are susceptible to rot problems during hot, damp weather.

*Hardiness: Medium; protect from frosts and freezes.

*Major problems: Powdery mildew and leaf spots are common problems in local plantings; use properly labeled fungicides as needed. Slugs often feed on the foliage and can be controlled with natural baits. Crown rots often occur when plants are set too deep in the ground or grown too wet, and during the rainy season.

*Pruning: Twist off or cut faded flowers with their long stems from the plants as needed. Also remove yellowing and fungus-affected leaves.

*Uses: Attractive flowers for container gardens and well-drained in-ground beds. Older varieties seem to be most resistant to rot problems but are hard to find. Newer selections are very showy, opening full, large blooms. All selections produce daisy-type white, red, pink, orange or yellow blooms atop tall stems. Plantings appear to grow best fall through late spring for use as accents in flower beds and on porches, patios and balconies. Long-stemmed clusters of blooms can be cut for indoor displays.

* Florida native: No; native to South Africa.