Gerbera Daisies

Gerbera Daisies are my favorite flower of all-time. They are colorful, showy, and cheery. They are popular, perennial and tender. So many great characteristics.

The common name Gerbera comes from Traugott Gerber (1710-1743 per Wikipedia) a medical doctor and botanist (many wealthy men dabbled in science during this time period). He didn’t actually discover the plant though he was friends with the father of taxonomy Carl Linnaeus. If you wanted a plant named after you in the 1700’s, being friends with Linnaeus was a good start. The scientific name, Gerbera jamesonii, comes from the the Scottish botanist Robert Jameson who discovered the flower for Western science in 1884 near Barberton, South Africa.

Gerbera daisies are the fifth most popular flower, behind roses, carnations, chrysanthemums, and tulips. Flower sellers keep track of such things. They also provide flowers with meanings, sometimes dependent on the color of the flower. A red rose means love and a white one means marriage. Florists don’t get choosy on gerbera flower color, but like to note that a bouquet of perky and brightly colored, large flowered gerbera daisies signify merriment and joy. In other words, bouquets of gerbera don’t belong at the funeral.

Flowers, by the way, are a great “host” gift. Sometimes when I go to someone’s house for dinner and they tell my I don’t need to bring anything, I’ll stop by the store and grab a small bouquet. I try to buy a happy looking bunch, and there are inevitably gerberas mixed in. Happy! It’s a good gift because a lot of people don’t buy flowers for themselves for “every day” living. It’s a treat and makes me look classy (Ha!). (Plus I always bring wine. I want to be invited back, you know.)

When I had a house garden, I optimistically attempted to keep gerberas alive all summer, and didn’t even come close. I tried for years. They are perennial flowers in some regions, but not in Cincinnati where the winter kills them, if the summer heat doesn’t get to them first. Meanwhile, the plain old white daisies threaten to take over swathes of the garden and they start to seem aggressive more than happy. The heartier perennial daisies that are easy to grow here just aren’t the same as the gerberas.

Even when I buy a pot of Gerberas to keep inside, the blooms die within a week or so and no new blooms appear. It about breaks my heart to kill something so joyous looking. I’ve learned. Now, I save a lot of money and grief by just buying the occasional bouquet for myself and letting a wee bit of flower joy lift my spirits.

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