The Gerbera daisy is considered a herbaceous perennial which is indigenous to South Africa. It can be raised as an interior potted plant or as an exterior plant for edgings or as a border plant. The Gerbera daisy is generally considered an easy perennial to grow, and prefers temperatures in the range of 50 to 75 degrees F. In colder regions, where temperatures are below 50 degrees F in the winter, the Gerbera daisy is typically considered an annual.
The Gerbera daisy belongs to the Asteraceae family. It grows to heights of 10 to 18 inches (depending on the variety). Mostly cultivated as hybrids, colors range from yellows and oranges to reds and corals. The 4- to 5-inch-wide flowers sit on sturdy, long stems which are covered with fine hairs. Gerbera daisies are often used in floral arrangements and come in single, double or semidouble rays. They will blossom steadily during their growing season, but will blossom most abundantly in summer and late fall.
Grow your Gerbera daisies 12 to 16 inches apart, in full sun. In hotter regions they can prefer partial shade. Plant so crowns of the plant are at, or slightly above (1/4 inch) ground level. The Gerbera daisy requires fertile, rich soil that possesses excellent drainage qualities, since its root system does not like to be kept soggy.
Gerbera daisies can be grown from seed. Use a good quality potting mix that contains mostly sterilized sand and peat. Peat pots make good planting mediums. Push the seeds gently onto the premoistened soil, but do not cover with soil--light is required for germination. Keep seeds damp, but not saturated, and place them in a warm, sunny location. Germination times vary from 21 days to 6 weeks.
Care and Maintenance
Avoid overwatering your Gerbera daisy. Overwatering can cause crown rot and contribute to the development of fungus, so let the plant dry out between waterings. Gerberas require frequent feedings. Use an all-purpose fertilizer and feed every 4 to 5 weeks during the growing season. If slugs and snails are a problem, use a slug and snail bait. For a nontoxic way to eradicate slugs and snails, place shallow bowls, tins or bottles filled with beer, which attracts the slugs and snails. (See Resources below on how and where to use beer for snail bait).
The Gerbera daisy is named after Traugott Gerber. But it is Robert Jameson who is credited for discovering the flower in 1884 when he and a partner of his were exploring gold mines around the town of Barberton, in South Africa. The Gerbera daisy primarily came from a very rural region in South Africa known as Transvaal. This is why the Gerbera daisy is also known by the name of Transvaal daisy. Gerbera daisies also come in a dwarf variety, called the mini-Gerbera, which has flowers that are 2 to 3 inches wide.