All-star gerberas

How to grow summer's show-off daisies

Kathleen N. Brenzel

If ever there were a flower tailor-made for bold color, it's the gerbera.

This happy-faced daisy, loved by flower arrangers, artists, and photographers, unfurls shapely petals, all neatly arranged around a tufted or velvety center.

It comes in a rainbow of glowing colors: sunny yellow, sassy orange, vivid red, flaming coral, hot pink, and deep fuchsia.

If subtle colors suit your taste, you'll also find the blooms in creamy white and a range of soft, sherbet shades like pale lemon and seashell pink.

As cut flowers, gerberas are practically unsurpassed. Their sturdy stems, topped with 4- to 5-inch-wide blooms, rise from rosettes of dark green, wavy-edged leaves.

Flowers are mostly fluffy doubles, with brown or yellow centers.

"Buying a single plant is cheaper than buying a bouquet, because a plant can bloom for years," says Luen Miller, a grower with Monterey Bay Nursery in California.

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