Daisy in general refers to a member of the aster family, which has a disc-like center, usually yellow, composed of many little tubular flowers. The conspicuous flat petals that surround this center are ray-flowers and can be almost any color. They are the ones we pull out playing "Daisy, daisy, tell me true…" There are many, many kinds of daisies that are found all over the world. Most are easy to grow and are beloved flowers of field and garden. Some daisies have been hybridized and developed into major mainstay cut and potted flower crops. Two of these are Daisy Chrysanthemums and Gerbera Daisies.
Daisy Chrysanthemums are one class of chrysanthemums, developed in China and Japan. They are classified by the National Chrysanthemum Society as Class 7, Single and Semi-Double Chrysanthemums. Chrysanthemums have been grown in China for over 2,000 years and Japan adopted them as their national flower. Gerbera Daisies are native to countries of Southern Africa. Different kinds of wild species have been hybridized together to produce the stunning, brightly-colored flowers available as potted plants or cut flowers today.
Daisy Chrysanthemums usually have small to medium-sized dark green multi-lobed leaves with scallops or points along the margins. They have a very characteristic smell that is not unpleasant, although some people don't like it. They appear all along the lower branches below the terminal flowers. Gerbera Daisy leaves are large and wide, with deeply cut divisions on the thinner lower part of the leaves. They arise from the crown of the plant, and the flower stems emerge through the clump of leaves. They are soft leaves with velvety hairs on the undersides.
Daisy Chrysanthemum flowers are massed along the ends of somewhat woody branches of a small shrub. When they bloom, this terminal mass of flowers can almost obscure the rest of the plant. Flower color can be almost any color but blue. Gerbera Daisies occur at the end of a thick stem that has no leaves. Flowers are large and last a long time. Disc flowers are variable in color but usually range from white through shades of pink, red, yellow, orange and brown. Discs can blend or contrast with ray flower color. Ray flowers go from white to pale shades of pinks and yellows to startlingly brilliant shades of orange, red, pink and purple.
Daisy Chrysanthemums are available as outdoor plants that bloom in the fall or potted florist plants that are forced into bloom at any time. Plants need bright light with some direct sun as potted plants. Outdoors they can take full sun as long as they are watered regularly and have well-draining soil. Plants can tolerate cold winters with mulch protection. Potted Gerbera Daisies need bright light with some sunlight, well-drained soil, and watering followed by allowing the top inch of soil to dry out before rewatering. They don't tolerate freezing weather and prefer cooler growing temperatures of around 75 degrees. Gerbera Daisies can be used as outdoor bedding plants in USDA zones 9 to 11 where freezing weather doesn't occur. They are perennials in these zones. They are increasingly being used as annual bedding plants in cold-winter areas.