The gerbera daisy plant, also known as African daisy, is native to areas in South Africa, South America and Asia. The plant is popular due to the bright colored daisy shaped flowers it produces. Gerbera daisies are hardy to plant year round in USDA growing Zones 9 and 10, but can be successfully planted as an annual in climates with cold winters.
Gerbera daisy plants prefer to be planted in a location that offers a well-draining soil and in full sun. However, the plant will tolerate light shade if it receives at least six hours of sun each day for flower production. Gerbera daisies can be planted in either a container or directly into the ground. Create a raised bed or plant in a container if the soil bed consists of heavy clay.
Prepare the garden planting area by working 2 to 3 inches of organic soil into the area. This soil amendment will increase the soil's draining ability and nutrient value. Dig a hole that is the same depth and slightly wider than the gerbera daisy root ball. Set the plant into the hole, making sure the top of the root crown is just above the soil level. Gently pack soil around the root ball and water the plant generously so the soil absorbs the water without pooling around the root system. For planting gerberas in containers, use pots with bottom drainage holes and fill it with a well-draining and nutrient rich potting soil.
Care and Maintenance
Water the gerbera daisy plant once the top layer of the soil begins to dry out with one-half to 1 inch of water so the soil is moist to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Apply the water during the cool morning hours at the soil level instead of overhead watering. Fertilize the gerbera daisy once a month starting in early spring until the flower blooms appear. Use a balanced water soluble fertilizer that has been diluted to one-half strength. Apply the same strength fertilizer every two weeks during the summer flowering period. Remove spent flowers and dried leaves from the plant throughout the growing period.
Propagate the gerbera daisy by dividing the plant in the spring or by taking basal cuttings from the plant in the summer. Divided root sections can be planted in a new location immediately. To grow basal cuttings, dip the cut end into rooting hormone and stick it into a tray filled with a sterile rooting medium. Place the rooting tray in a warm location with indirect sunlight, and keep the soil moist until roots appear.
Gerbera daisy plants are susceptible to powdery mildew growth or gray mold. Remove and dispose of infected leaves and plant sections immediately at the first sign of a problem. Apply a fungicide to the plant if the problem continues. Prevent mold and fungal growth problems by watering at the ground level without creating standing water around the plant. Increase air circulation by changing locations of container plants, and by pruning overgrowth around garden bed plants.