Gerbera daisies (Gerbera jamesonii) are one of the most beautiful and finicky annuals around. A native plant of Africa, Gerbera daisy can be grown as a perennial only in zone 8 and is used as an annual elsewhere. Often used as container plants indoors, Gerbera daisies can be planted outdoors in a well-draining garden bed mixed with plenty of organic matter in full-sun for the summer months. Look for seedlings with strong stems and healthy leaves, avoiding those with yellowed leaves or full blooms in the store.
Cut straight down into the garden bed with a hand trowel, away from decaying organic matter such as leaves or dead plants, if possible. Place a 3-inch sample of soil in a clean plastic container. If you have a large bed, take a number of samples from different locations, and mix them together in the plastic container to obtain the most accurate reading of your entire bed.
Take your sample to your local cooperative extension office or full-service garden center for testing. Costing little more than a couple dollars, if anything, this test will measure your pH balance (the acidity level of the soil) as well as explain the make-up of the soil and give you suggestions on amending the soil to the most optimal conditions for healthy plants. Purchase any suggested amendments to improve the nutrient value, acidity and drainage properties of your bed. While many plants can grow in less than optimal growing conditions, Gerbera daisies are very finicky and will not survive in poor draining or heavy soils.
Amend the garden bed as suggested. Using a spade, turn each amendment (compost, peat moss, manure, to name a few possibilities) into the soil at least 12 inches deep until a fine, powdery consistency.
Loosen and untangle the roots of your seedlings without destroying the rootball before planting.
Plant Gerbera daisy seedlings, placing each plant in a small mound with the crown of the plant above the soil line. By mounding the soil, you keep the crown from settling under the soil as the garden settles. Because the stems are so susceptible to disease, keeping the crown above ground is vital.
Place soaker hose through the garden about 12 inches from your newly planted seedlings. Cover hose with mulch and mulch around seedlings, careful not to mulch right up to the crown. Allow a 1-inch space.