A gerbera daisy is about the prettiest, most striking flower around. It It flaunts five-inch blossoms in vivid colors of red, orange, coral, pink, yellow, and cream. It has just one itty-bitty problem. You can't keep the damn thing alive.

 

Native to the Transvaal region of South Africa (which gives the plant its other common name, Transvaal daisy), gerberas (Gerbera jamesonii ) feature single or double flowers that rise on stems above tufts of foliage that look a little like sorrel. They're supposedly perennial in the Coastal and Tropical South (Zones 9 and 10) and treated as annual elsewhere.

Frankly, from my experience and that of many readers, they ought to be treated as "daily."

The problem seems to be our rainfall and humidity. See, the climates of South Africa and the Southeastern U.S. don't exactly match. Gerberas don't like heavy, wet soil and our summer downpours. They rot faster than cheap siding.

Grumpy would guess that gerbera is one of those plants that grows much better in a container than in the ground (unless your soil is sandy), because you can give it perfect drainage,

Still, a lifetime measured in minutes does have a positive side. You know how you agonize about what to get your mother for Mother's Day, because she's 80 years old and has everything already and you know she's never touched the quiche maker, fruit dehydrator, or build-your-own casket kit you gave her years before? Gerbera daisy is your salvation. You can give her one this year and be absolutely sure it'll be dead by next year, so you can give her another one.

If any of you know secrets to successfully keeping gerbera daisies alive for more than a week, please enlighten the rest of Grumpy's readers.

Of course, if you do, we'll all have to find something else to give our mothers. Rats!

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Bonus Gardening Advice Dispensed on a Variety of Topics With 100% Accuracy!

 

It is Grumpy's nature to give and give and give some more. So here are eye-opening and life-fulfilling answers to some of your gardening questions of the day.

Hostas: I have some 4-year old hostas that are getting a bit unruly. They are basically HUGE. When is the best time to separate them without killing the plants? Laura

 

Grumpy responds: Not now when the afternoon temps are still hitting the 90's. Wait until the fall when the foliage is starting to wither and turn yellow. Or wait until next spring when the new shoots popping up are just a couple of inches high.

 

Rabbits: How do I get rid of rabbits in my yard? Dode

 

Grumpy responds: I weally wesent wascally wabbits wunning woughshod awound my wesidence wobbing my wadiant wed wadishes, wipe 'Woma' tomatoes, and scwumptious Bwussels spwouts!  So my fwiend, Elmer Fudd, watches 24-7, weady to wet woose with a wolley from his wapid-fire weapon! You can also use a wabbit wepellent like Rabbit Scram and Liquid Fence or even Hot Pepper Wax awound your pwants. Wabbit twaps work well and are weadily available.

 

Lawn woes: We want to kill our weed-laden and eroded lawn, amend the soil, and reseed with bluegrass or tall fescue in September. Is there a friendly way to strip the yard bare? Do you have any recommendations for how to get rid of one lawn and start a new one in its place? Melinda in Virginia

Grumpy responds: First, spray your existing lawn according to label directions with Roundup. This will kill all the existing grass and weeds in about a week. Then reapply to spots you missed before. After everything is dead, amend the soil, seed it, and keep the soil moist. Apply a seed-starter fertilizer after the grass germinates. You'll have to seed again in the spring to thicken the lawn, especially if you use fescue, which doesn't spreads by runners as bluegrass does.

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