The Garvinea Gerberas

GER Sweet Smile 09bGarvinea Sweet Smile’ delivers the Gerbera look for ground plantings

Gerbera is highly popular at the florist for obvious reasons: big, vibrant daisy-like flowers with strong thick stems. It makes a good cut flower, but standard florist varieties are bred more for protected spaces inside high-volume greenhouses. What we need is the same great look with a tougher, more seasoned plant underneath for landscapes and containers. That would be the Garvinea series from Florist Holland, bred to be The Garden Gerbera. Let’s take a look at it.

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Planted as a container stand, these light pinks are ‘Garvinea Sweet Surprise’

Decoding the Name

First, let’s decode the name. Garvinea is a large family of garden Gerberas (over twenty) offered by the European breeder Florist Holland. What we are interested in is a sub-series called the Sweets, as in ‘Sweet Glow’ and ‘Sweet Smile’. Sweets are second-generation cultivars that have larger flowers and more vigorous blooming schedules. These are the ones we offer.

This tweak on the series may be news to a lot of people, because the Sweet series is very new to the market. It was introduced in Europe in 2014 and only recently brought over to the United States.

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Garvinea is the best Gerbera for outdoor work

Good in the Ground

We can vouch for the outdoor performance of Garvinea. These plants bloomed constantly in our Display Gardens last summer—something we normally don’t see. Other Gerberas will survive the summer but they won’t bloom past spring unless conditions are optimal. Garvinea, on the other hand, kept up a solid show of blooms throughout the entire season.

Once these Gerberas start they keep going until frost, with large two-inch flowers that are very clearly daisy-like. We’ve noticed that anything that looks like a daisy in the summer sells well so include them with Rudbeckia, Leucanthemum, and other daisy-shaped blooms. Garvinea stands out with vibrant colors and impressive eyes.

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Notice the thicker, waxier leaves on ‘Garvinea Sweet Glow’

 Fixing Some Problems

Older cultivars had a number of soft characteristics that made them vulnerable outdoors. While they were great greenhouse plants they were ill suited for long-term, carefree applications in gardens and landscapes.

Garvinea fixed the problem with key changes to the plant:

  • Better roots that don’t succumb to rot as easily
  • Continuous summer blooms that don’t cycle in and out
  • Thicker and waxier leaves that control water loss in summer months
  • Stronger resistance that keeps pests and diseases at bay

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‘Garvinea Sweet Spice’ is more fuchsia or dark pink—in between pink and red

Water Is The Achilles’ Heel

Vigor in Garvinea is tied to water in the crown. We’re not saying the plants will melt like sugar in tea but they don’t like saturated soil; in fact, they like it on the dry side. Their Achilles’ Heel is a damp crown—it’s where pathogens get a start and we begin to see signs of crown or root rot. Garvinea will thank you if you use drip or soaker irrigation, since this naturally keeps water out of the center.

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‘Garvinea Sweet Sunset’ has an unusual yellow glow around the dark eye

Some Tips From Experience

Get your Gerberas into the ground earlier rather than later. Cool night temperatures trigger bud development, so you get more flowers from the cooler spring nights. Removing finished flowers and old foliage will stimulate the plant to produce more new buds.

Garvineas require full to half sun and prefer a porous, well-draining soil. As we mentioned before, soil that saturates rots out the roots. They are light to moderate feeders so add some slow release fertilizer occasionally if you can. Gerberas are also touchy about salt in the soil; avoid beds splashed with winter salt. 

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Bunch the Garvineas together to create the most impressive display

 Getting That Look

A mature plant grows about 18 by 18 inches. We like to crowd ours just a little for a lush look when mass planting—that way the leaves bunch up tightly at the crown. One Garvinea gets big and thick on its own but it’s more striking when planted in a stand of either three or five pots set tightly together. Multiple blooms rise straight up from the center, surrounded by a fort of dense, heavy leaves. This is the most photogenic version of the plant we have seen.

Because the flowers grow straight up from the same base, Garvineas also make a great presentation in a large container—and we do mean large. We see people planting them in wheelbarrows. Since the base is so thick with leaves this Gerbera is usually planted as-is, whether in beds or containers. Flowers can be picked and used in cut flower arrangements; as an extra benefit, plucking stimulates the creation of new buds on the plant.

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‘Garvinea Sweet Glow’ as a showcase plant in a garden center

About that Perennial Talk

Garvinea is sometimes described as the Perennial Gerbera, but that refers to the southern market here in the United States. It is hardy to zone 7, which is right next door to us to the south. If you protect the plant, or if the winter is mild, you might see it return the following year. We sell it as an annual since our winters are too unpredictable; however, that tolerance for colder weather does make Garvinea tougher and more suitable for landscape and garden applications.

If you are used to planting the older varieties of Gerbera, Garvinea will change your mind. These plants bloomed reliably in our Display Gardens before our Field Day presentations, and they continued to bloom thereafter, too. We can’t think of a Gerbera that has performed so well in our beds. It’s not a perennial for us, but it remains a damn fine landscape annual.

Our Garvinea Gerberas are available in the 6-inch pot. We have five varieties: ‘Sweet Glow’ (orange), ‘Sweet Smile’ (yellow), ‘Sweet Spice’ (dark pink), ‘Sweet Sunset’ (orange bi-color), and ‘Sweet Surprise’ (light pink).

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