Gerbera plants (Gerbera jamesonii), also known as Transvaal daisies, produce naked flowering stems that reach up to 18 inches tall and bear single or double blooms. The flowers typically appear in shades of red, orange and yellow, though some cultivars may produce white and pastel blossoms. Popular as cut flowers, gerbera blooms can last for several weeks after harvest and often appear in professional floral arrangements. Although technically considered half-hardy perennials, gerbera plants grow as annuals in most areas of the country. Hardy in USDA zones 9 through 11 only, the plants cannot tolerate cold winters and typically die back when temperatures drop below freezing.
Plant gerbera during spring, just after the final frost date, at a site that consists of organically rich, moist soil and receives full sun to light shade. Space gerbera plants 12 inches apart to accommodate their maximum spread.
Spread a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch over the soil surrounding the plants to stunt competitive weeds, which sap nutrients from the soil. Do not allow the mulch to come within 3 inches of the gerbera plant's crown to avoid the growth of fungal diseases.
Water the plants once per week, but only during weeks that receive less than 1 inch of rainfall. Soak the soil to a depth of 3 to 4 inches each time to provide plenty of water to the roots. Never allow the soil to become saturated, as this may cause rotting.
Fertilize gerbera plants once a month during spring and summer to promote rapid growth and abundant blooming. Apply a 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer according to the manufacturer's directions for the best results. Water lightly just before and after feeding.
Remove dead and faded gerbera flowers whenever possible to improve the plant's appearance and help conserve nutrients. Pinch off the flowers at their point of origin to minimize damage and prevent disease.