Though gerbera daisies warm up a home gardening space and add visual interest with their full blooms in pops of colours like red and yellow, these flowers have their share of pest problems. Fortunately, you can avoid most pest infestations by providing proper care to your gerbera plants. Keep your daisies in full sun during the early hours with shade during the second half of the day and plant them in well-drained soil. Act quickly if problems arise.
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Examine your plants if you notice that they look tattered as though they have been chewed. If this symptom is present, your gerbera daisies are likely under the attack of caterpillars or another chewing bug that eats plant tissue. Rest easy if this is the case as caterpillars are large and easy to spot. However, move quickly to remove these pests as continued feeding can move beyond cosmetic damage into severe injury. Gerberas can experience wilt and plant death if caterpillars begin feeding on stems, according to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension. Wearing gloves, pick caterpillars from your plants by hand. Contact your local county extension agent for assistance in identifying the type of caterpillar roaming in your garden.
Look for telltale symptoms on leaf surfaces as verification of a mining bug infestation. Leafminers, for example, are one of the main pests of gerbera plants. These mining bugs look like flies, displaying black and yellow bodies. Similar to sucking bugs in their feeding method, they differ in that they produce a particular type of effect. When leafminers remove plant tissue fluid as food, they lay eggs that hatch into larvae that feed on leaves and flowers as well. As larvae feed, they eat internal tissue that results in the formation of abnormal swirling patterns on leaves as the larvae tunnel their way through the plant. For control, prune away and destroy affected plant parts, but avoid the use of chemicals which do not provide reliable control, according to the University of California Integrated Pest Management Online.
Sucking bugs are pests that literally suck plant fluid tissue as a food source. Pests like whitelifes, aphids and thrips are primary concerns on gerbera plants. Western flowers thrips, for example, display yellow-orange bodies as larvae and as adults, bodies are dark brown, black, white, orange or yellow with hairy abdomens characteristic to this Frankliniella occidentalis alone, according to the University of California. Thrips result in tiny dots on flowers and leaves as well as the appearance of malformation, though usually plant death is not a concern. Control these pests naturally by releasing natural enemies that hunt and kill thrips without further harming your gerberas. Use minute pirate bugs available in garden supply stores. Remove and destroy affected plant parts. Avoid chemicals as they do not effectively control thrips.
A pest of gerbera daisies invisible to the naked eye is the nematode. Nematodes are microscopic soil-borne roundworms that attack the roots of your gerberas. As they feed, swollen areas called galls develop on plant roots, inhibiting plants from absorbing water and nutrients from soil. Gerberas may wilt, display yellowed leaves, decline in health or die. Control of nematodes in challenging, according to the University of California IPM Online. To decrease the severity of the problem, increase irrigation to keep soil moist and add organic content like compost to your soil as this inhibits nematode activity. Contact your county extension agent to discuss potential resistant plants that you can use in your region while rotating gerberas out of the infested soil.
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- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Gerberas for Florida; B. Tjia and R.J. Black, et al; June 1990
- Alabama Cooperative Extension System: Greenhouse Production of Gerbera Daisies; J.R. Kessler, Jr.; February 1999
- University of California IPM Online: Leafminers
- University of California IPM Online: Thrips
- University of California IPM Online: Nematodes