The Secret to Long-Lasting Gerbera Daisies
26/Aug/2008 09:48 Filed in: Garden Blog
While reading Amy Stewart’s, Flower Confidential, I came across a tidbit of information about gerbera daisies that made me laugh. She revealed a secret about long-lasting cut gerbera daisies that I already knew about.
While covering the massive Dutch floral trade in her book, Amy describes the high-tech greenhouses and growing operations in the Netherlands, undoubtedly made famous for most people because of their association with and domination of the global tulip industry. However, gerbera daisies are a hot item in the global floral trade, ranking about fifth in cut flower use, for obvious reasons. According to Amy, Americans buy over 200 million gerbera stems a year.
A member of the Asteraceae, gerbera daisies have the prototypical daisy-shaped flower head, but modern cultivars come in a dazzling array of vivid, eye-popping colors, some of which exude an almost impossible neon brightness. While some may view the large daisy flower heads as almost too picture-perfect and excessively gaudy, nothing is quite as bright and cheerful as a gerbera daisy, whether in a mixed bouquet or as a single display specimen. Like Amy Stewart, it’s hard not to smile or feel momentary awe and admiration at the sight of a large gerbera daisy on display.
The gerbera is native to portions of South America, Asia, and South Africa, which is why it is sometimes called a Transvaal daisy. It was first described in the literature by the botanist, Robert Jameson, in the late 19th century. However, Gerbera jamesonii has been hybridized with other gerbera species to produce the essentially perfect, modern, long-lasting cut flower. Literally, hundreds of new varieties are tested in Dutch greenhouses each year to try and find new shape and color combinations that ship well and last a long time in the vase.
A Gerbera Daisy Secret
So what is the secret to long-lasting, cut gerbera daisies in your home? It’s really simple and the technique also works well with many other cut flowers displayed in a vase. My wife and I accidentally discovered this secret a few years ago and were amazed at how long the gerbera daisies lasted.
Here’s the secret: Place a single, long-stemmed gerbera daisy in a vase in which the water is no more than about three quarters to perhaps one inch deep. An ideal vase is one that is squat-shaped, so that the cut stem is inserted into a relatively large volume of shallow water. You must be careful of using a tiny vase with only a small reservoir of water at the bottom that may dry out and actually ruin your flower more quickly.
It turns out that cut gebera daisies can soak up water through their stems and essentially begin to weaken and decay if the water is too deep. By keeping only shallow water in the vase, this problem is reduced and the stem stays stronger much longer and continues to keep the flower robust.
Another simple little trick to extend the display life of a gerbera daisy is to watch for the cut end of the stem to discolor and look like it is getting soggy. Just snip off a little bit of the stem so that the remaining stem is strong and your gerbera daisy will continue to look fresh and amaze you for perhaps several weeks. Many other flowers also last longer when displayed as single stems or as a bouquet of the same species.
Just don’t put your flower vase near ripening fruits and vegetables on the kitchen counter. It’ll definitely shorten their vase life. But to find out why, for now anyway, I’ll send you to Amy Stewart’s book, Flower Confidential. If you read it, you’ll discover many other secrets to the vast global floral industry and you’ll understand why many of our local grocery stores do a disservice to the vase life of cut flowers by sticking them next to the fruit and vegetable section.