Question from John: I live in Wisconsin close to the Illinois border. Each year I purchase Gerbera Daisy plants. After about a week on the patio, the yellow finches pluck out the petals. They pull them out one at a time. They do not eat them or the center of the flower. They just pluck them out and drop them. They strip all the petals from all colors and just the gerbera daisies.They do not touch the centers of the flowers. At first we thought they were taking the petals for nesting purposes, but they just pluck them and drop them. Once all the petals are gone they move on to the next flower. Any ideas?

The Grump replies: It is a sad commentary on the fallen state of the world when we can no longer feel safe around goldfinches. Most people trust these little birds as they would trust their own children. Yet see how that trust is repaid!

I have never witnessed such outlandish behavior myself. I can think of only 3 explanations:

1. They're looking for seeds in the center. When they don't find any, they move on to the next flower.

2. Maybe they are Illinois goldfinches making a border raid on you Wisconsin cheeseheads!

3. You're dealing with a group of delinquent birds. The Goldfinch Gang has come to town.


An innocent Gerbera awaits its fate. It's a plucking shame.

Bird Gangs?

Don't be shocked. Ever since Alfred Hitchcock's classic horror film, "The Birds," debuted in 1963, we've known our avian friends had a dark sinister side. They tweet sweetly on the feeder, all the while selecting which one of us will get our eyes pecked out. Maybe it will be you!

Grumpians, can any of you offer John an explanation for why these finches are pillaging his Gerberas?

While John waits, he can take solace in the fact that behavior on his feeder could be even worse.


Anyone know a good source for a bear baffle? This is what you get for putting suet in your feeder! Growing Gerberas -- A Grumpy Quickie

Light: Full to part sun

Soil: Moist, well-drained (soggy soil es muy malo). I think that's Spanish for "very bad."

Water: Water thoroughly, then let soil go slightly dry before watering again

Fertilizer: Feed monthly with liquid bloom-booster fertilizer

Grooming: Remove spent flowers to keep new ones coming

Nice to know: Plants often do better in containers than in the ground

Watch out for: Goldfinch gangs