Gerbera Daisy Problems

My Gerbera Daisy blooms were buried under foliage because of very short stems

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Many years ago I had admired beautiful Gerbera Daisies grown by a fellow gardener.   Eventually I got around to including Gerbera Daisies in one of my container gardens.  I was extremely disappointed that the flower stems were so short the blooms were always buried under foliage of the other plants.  I was very disappointed, since Theresa’s had lovely long stems.  I tried them again in a different location with more sun the next year, same result so I quit buying them.  But I continued to see long stems on many of the Gerbera Daisies grown by others and no one I asked had ever experienced short stems.  Last spring while searching for some new annuals for a container garden addition on my deck, I noticed Gerbera Daisies in bloom with very long stems at the garden center so I figured I would try one last time.  Finally!  Long stems with abundant large blooms!

Ever since, I have advised people to buy their Gerbera Daisies in bloom or ready to bloom so you can see if it will have long stems.  But after hearing a few other gardeners complain about short stems I think it’s time to find out what causes the difference.

According to Auburn University and the Alabama Extension service, it seems that the problem may be with the growers in greenhouse production.  I am extrapolating but it makes sense to me.

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Greenhouse growers use a growth retardant to hold growth at a desired point until they are ready to ship to local nurseries.  There is a very specific regimen recommended for applying the chemicals for Gerbera Daisies.  The amount, timing and frequency is scheduled according to the plant size, container size and length of growing period.  Very specifically those instructions indicate:  “Do not apply B-Nine in the last 4 weeks before flowers open because flower size and shape may be adversely affected.”  Further, “Growth retardant applied excessively or late will cause flower stems to be short.”

So, there you have it!  My guess is the grower over used the growth retardant or used it too long.  Since there is no way to know what the grower did and usually who the grower is, I will continue to only buy Gerbera blooming or ready to bloom so I know how long the stems will be!

There are other factors that can affect stem length, but these factors seem to have little effect based on my trials.  But while I’m on the subject here are a few more tips for Gerbera Daisies:

  • Like most annuals, Gerbera Daisies are heavy feeders, be sure to fertilize regularly.

  • Cold temperatures, dry conditions or high salt content can also cause flower stems to be short.

  • Too much ammonium in the fertilzer can cause flower stems to be too long.

  • Too little sun can cause flower stems to be too long when the blooms are reaching for sunlight.

  • Mites, thrips or high soil salt can distort the blooms.

  • Poor drainage leading to saturated soil can cause stunted growth or failure.

  • Wilting of the flower and or plant is more often caused by over watering rather than under watering.

Trial and error, research, try again.  Always learning something new with gardening!

Sharon Dwyer