BURSTS
OF COLOR
PHOTOS BY CHARLA BORCHERS LEON/VICTORIA COUNTY MASTER GARDENER
Daisy blooms come in many varieties, sizes, and colors.  This large orange gerbera daisy compares to the tiny white daisy mum.
Daisies are easy to grow, flourish in our area

August 06, 2009

by Jean Wofford, Victoria County Master Gardener

edited by Charla Borchers Leon, Victoria County Master Gardener
When I was doing research on daisies, I found there are several that will grow and flourish in our area. I decided to just write on the ones I have in my garden.

As a bit of trivia, did you know daisies have an uneven number of petals? This is characteristic of the compositae plant family, which includes the daisy, aster and dandelion.

The Meaning of 'Daisy'

According to my research, daisies mean innocence and purity. They are also a classic symbol of beauty. However, different daisies mean additional things. For instance, the gerbera daisy also implies cheerfulness.

GERBERA DAISIES
History


Gerbera daisies were discovered in South Africa in 1884, by a Scotsman named Robert Jameson. The scientific name is Gerbera jamesonii, which is named for the founder. The common name, gerbera daisy, comes from the German naturalist Traugott Gerber.
Gerberas come in a spectacular palette of solid bright colors, as well as pastel and bicolored shades.
Breeding programs started in England in the 1890's. This led to the quality of flowers and colors we find today. The gerbera daisy was so popular, it soon found its way to the Netherlands to the commercial growers and on to America.

Commercially Grown

Most of the gerbera daisies that are used for cut flowers come from the Netherlands or Colombia in South America. The gerbera is said to be the fifth most popular cut flower in the world.

Guess what ranks before it? Roses are first, followed by carnations, chrysanthemums, tulips and then gerberas.

As Cut flowers

Gerbera daisies make excellent, long-lasting cut flowers and come in bright colors of pink, red, orange and yellow as well as cream, lilac, purple, brown, salmon, white and bicolored. They can easily last up to a week or longer, if proper preparation is made before they are put into a vase of water. Always cut the stem under water.

Do you know why that is important? Gerbera daisies extend from the plant on tall, single hollow stems that can be as tall as 10-16 inches. Like most plants, water is pulled up the stem through tiny tubes (xylem) within the stem. If they are not cut under water, an air space may get into these tubes, and then water can not be pulled up to the bloom to keep the bloomhead fresh. Just one simple rule to make cut flowers of all kinds last longer.

Growing Conditions

Choose a sunny location. Since I do not like to dig with a shovel, I put down a layer of about 50 sheets of newspaper, and watered this in until the paper was soaked and wouldn't hold any more water. I mixed soil with good humus and manure. I started building the bed by putting this soil mix on top of the newspaper. I used an edging to make a raised bed, about four inches deep. I let this set overnight and next day my gerbera daisies went in. I watered every couple of days until the daisies were fully established. They will droop if they get too dry.

Once the gerberas are established, they like to be fed about once a month during the blooming cycle. Other than that, they are trouble free. I have never had any pests on them.

Propagation

I have seen seeds forming similar to those on zinnias, but I have never tried growing them from seeds, so I have no idea how difficult it would be. I do have some that have been in my yard at least five years. They do multiply, but very slowly, so when I want more, I just buy the plants.

SHASTA DAISIES

While gerbera daisies appear in many colors and variations, shastas are one of my favorite white flowers. When I was doing my research, I found them to have an interesting background story.

History

Many of us may remember reading about Luther Burbank. Did you know he worked 17 years to come up with what we know as shasta daisies? He used four different kinds of daisies to create a hybrid. He wasn't pleased with the first shasta, because he didn't think it was the vibrant white he was seeking. He kept adding pollen of different daisies, and finally came up with the purity of color we know and enjoy in our shasta daisy.

Growing Characteristics

Shastas are fairly easy grown from seeds. They can either be started in pots, or planted into the soil. Keep the seeds damp for a week or so, and you should soon see little daisies growing. Once they are up, they grow pretty fast. However, they are seasonally available in the nurseries.

I give them a light feeding every month or so during blooming season.

The shasta needs full sun and grows best in clumps that do better if they are divided every several years.

If you have them in your garden, they are likely all bloomed out for this season.

Propagation


Shastas are very easy to propagate. Just remove new shoots from the old clump, and plant them. You do this in the same way you would day lilies. They perform better if they are divided every couple of years. If they aren't divided, the stems become woody and blooming slows down.

Pests


Aphids have been a pain this year. I don't know what makes this year different, but it has been. However, aphids are one of the easiest pests to get rid of. A strong squirt of water will eliminate them from the plant. I use soapy water or an insecticide, and then I know the problem is gone.

Whether you plant gerbera or shasta daisies, both are prolific and sturdy. Gerberas are available in a spectacular palette of colors; shastas are only white or sometimes soft yellow. They are both some of our finest perennials for longer-lasting cut flowers.
GERBERAS VS. SHASTAS

*Gerbera and shasta daisies are both easy to grow.
*Both require full sun.
*Both like regular feeding.
*Gerberas grow on tall single stems.
*Shastas clump together and multiply rapidly.
*Shastas seem to attract aphids.
*Gerberas have few to no pests.
*Both are good cut flowers.
*Both are well worth having in your garden
LUNCH AND LEARN
WITH THE MASTERS
Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center
2805 N. Navarro St.
Monday
Noon to 1 p.m.
Free to the public

Presented by Victoria County Master Gardener Association.
Victoria County Master Gardener Roy Cook will speak on mulching, composting, and water conservation.
Bring your lunch and drink

NOTE: This is the last Lunch and Learn Training Session for 2009.
The gerbera daisy extends from a single stem that can be as tall as 10-16 inches. Cut gerberas are often placed in plastic cylinder-like stem covers to provide support for the long stems.
Even in this monochromatic color scheme bouquet, the gerbera pops out from the roses and lilies.
Shasta daisies are a vibrant white with yellow center. They take full sun and grow best in clumps that need to be divided every several years. If you have them in your garden, they are likely all bloomed out for this season.
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or vcmga@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.