If you plucked daisy petals to determine whether a crush liked you or liked you not when you were young, you weren't alone. Those long, thin petals surrounding the flower center are the hallmark of flowers in the huge daisy family Asteraceae.
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Both gerbera daisies and daisy chrysanthemums are in the Asteraceae family as well, and both get their common names from their long, slender petals. Otherwise, they are completely different plants.
Meet the Daisy Chrysanthemum
Most gardeners are familiar with the garden chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum x morifolium), a staple of the late summer backyard display. They are bought as bedding plants to replace fading early summer annuals. In warmer climates, mums can be perennial flowering plants, returning year after year to leaf and flower in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9.
There are many different kinds of mums, often categorized by the shape of their flowers. You will find pompom mums with one small, round flower; button mums with two small flowers; decorative mums with large double or semidouble blossoms; and daisy mums with single, daisylike flowers with a yellow center. Daisy chrysanthemums look like daisies, with slender rays circling a yellow center.
Meet the Gerbera Daisy
Gerbera daisies (Gerbera jamesonii) are bright, cheery blossoms that grow to 4 inches wide. They are common additions to garden beds in springtime but can also be grown from seeds. Like garden mums, they are most often bought as starts and grown as annuals, but they are winter hardy to USDA zone 8.
Like other plants called "daisy," gerberas have a central floral disk around which the slender petals are arranged. Their hues range from pastels to vivid shades of yellow, pink, red, orange, and purple. The leaves are fuzzy and clumped at the base of the stem, and each flower appears on its own naked stem some 6 inches above the foliage.
Even as annuals, gerbera daisies are good investments. The plants flower for long periods during the growing season. They also make for lovely cut-flower bouquets that last for weeks.
Compare Chrysanthemums to Gerberas
Although the similarities between daisy chrysanthemums and gerbera daisies are striking, their differences are also easy to spot. Gerbera plants grow between 6 inches and 18 inches tall, while garden mums can be as tall as 3 feet.
Gerbera leaves are large, broad, and velvety, arising from the plant's crown. The flower stems are separate, leafless, and taller than the foliage. On the other hand, a garden chrysanthemum leaf is oval and divided into five or seven pointed lobes. They are dark green with a characteristic earthy smell.
Mums are grouped at the ends of woody, leaf-filled branches. They bloom toward the end of summer. Gerbera daisies appear in spring at the tip of thick, leafless stems.