ASK THE GARDENERS. Questions & Answers

Q. Near the place where we stay in Florida each winter, there is a colorful display of gerberas. Last year we decided we would like to have some around our patio at our Michigan summer home, so we sowed seeds late in March and transplanted them into pots in April.

They transported well and we planted them outdoors in late May when we arrived home. They produced lush leaves all summer but in early October they still had not bloomed, even though they had survived an early frost.

Is it impossible to get them to bloom outdoors in the North?

B.F.

Sarasota, Fla.

Although gerberas are now being sold as bedding plants in the North, we have not been able to get them to bloom satisfactorily outdoors.

For three years in succession we have sown seeds indoors in February, as they need 22 weeks or more from seed to bloom here. In one sunny summer we got a few blooms before frost. Last year, our experience was the same as yours. Much of the Northeast had a cloudy summer and gerberas need high light intensity and warmth to flower well.

We have had success growing in pots which we bring indoors before frost. We get blooms in October, on through the winter in our greenhouse or a sunny window, if the sun shines enough.

Doc and Katy Abraham are nationally known horticulturists.

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