gerberaThese bright, happy blooms rank No. 6 on the list of most consumed flowers in the U.S.

call my name
Although Gerbera (GUR-bur-uh) is the botanical name for these South African natives, it is the term people most commonly use to refer to these flowers. The common names—which are not frequently used—are Transvaal daisy, Barberton daisy, veldt daisy and African daisy. They denote these flowers’ geographical origin in South Africa (“Transvaal,” a province there; “Barberton,” a city in Transvaal; and “veldt,” a term for the grassy plateaus of this region).

what a family
Gerberas are a member of the hugeAsteraceae/Compositae (composite/sunflower) family. Close relatives include sunflowers, chrysanthemums, Asters, Dahlias, Zinnias, marigolds, bachelor’s buttons, yarrow andSolidago (goldenrod).

anatomy lesson
Gerbera’s daisylike (composite) blooms comprise three types of florets: The center (disc, eye) contains “disc florets”; around the center is a ring of intermediate “trans florets”; and the petals that compose the outer ring are known as “ray florets.”

modern science
There are five standard types of Gerbera blooms: singles, doubles and crested doubles, full crested doubles and quill crested doubles (spider). New specialty hybrids include cushion types (e.g., Gerrondo®, Pomponi®); “feather”-petaled (‘Pasta’ series); and novelty green flowers (‘Loco’ series).

size ’em up 
Gerbera blooms are available in three sizes: miniature (2 to 3 inches in diameter), standard (3 to 5 inches in diameter) and giant (5 to 6 inches in diameter).

a new leaf
Gerbera stems are naturally leafless; however, breeders have developed hybrids that have short spike-shaped leaves (e.g., Gerfolia®, ‘Deco’ series).

out of the blue
Gerberas are available in virtually every hue imaginable (including, now, green) except for true blues and blue-violets. Striking bicolors also are available. The centers can be yellow, green, brown, black or dark red/red-violet.

care giving
Unpack Gerberas immediately upon their arrival, and check flower quality. Recut stem ends with a sharp blade, removing at least 1 inch of stem, and immediately dip or place stem ends into a hydration solution, to help the flowers absorb nutrient solution more quickly and easily.

Then place stems into sterilized containers partially filled with flower-food solution prepared with nonfluoridated water, if possible (fluoride can cause petal tip burn in some varieties). To encourage straight stems, suspend flower heads through a mesh support or shipping tray placed over the container opening, so the stems hang straight into the flower-food solution without touching the bottom.

cool condition
After processing Gerberas, immediately place them into a floral refrigerator at 33 F to 35 F, and allow them to hydrate for at least two hours before selling or arranging them. Except for design time, keep these flowers refrigerated until they’re sold or delivered.

maintenance plan
Change the nutrient solution, clean the storage containers and recut stems every day becauseGerberas are particularly susceptible to stem clogging by bacteria-contaminated water.

time of their life
Four to 14 days is the typical vase life for cut Gerberas, depending on variety, care, environmental conditions and maturity at the time of sale. Some new varieties reportedly last as long as 18 days.

not an issue
Gerberas are not affected by exposure to ethylene.

provide support
Wiring the stems or placing them inside straws (preferable to wiring) can help keep stems straight and prevent conking (stem collapse 4 to 6 inches below the blooms), but neither action will increase the vase life of the flowers.

on the homefront
Provide consumers with packets of flower food so they can change the nutrient solution every day, and advise them to recut the stems daily, as well.