Gerbera daisies sure know how to steal the show with their vibrant colors and contrasting deep green foliage. They can make any room seem a little brighter just by sitting in a vase, so imagine the joy they could bring you if you grow them yourself. They’re fairly easy to grow if you don’t give them too much sunlight or excessive water.
These flowers are tender perennials in USDA zones 8-10 and can be grown as annual plants everywhere. You can even grow them in pots and overwinter them indoors if you want to keep your plants all year long.
You can have a fresh supply of daisies nearly year-round when you grow them yourself. Let’s look at how to grow these flowers in your garden.
Gerbera Daisy Overview
Gerbera daisy, native to South Africa, is a popular cut flower with various nicknames.
The gerbera daisy, Gerbera jamesonii, was named after German naturalist Traugott Gerber and Robert Jameson, who was once credited with finding the daisies. However, they’d been found earlier by three different people on separate occasions. They’re native to South Africa but can be found in almost any flower shop as a popular choice for cut flowers.
The gerbera daisy has a few other location-based nicknames: the African daisy, the Transvaal daisy, and the Barberton daisy, which list out the continent, province, and city the flower was reportedly found in, respectively. It’s in the aster family, making it a relative to sunflowers, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and zinnias.
Tall-stalked gerbera daisies have 3-4 inch colorful heads and average 6-18 inches tall.
Gerbera daisies are known for their long stalks sporting brightly-colored flowers. These flower heads are 3-4 inches across with white, yellow, orange, pink, or red petals with a center that can be green, yellow, brown, or black. If you see blue gerbera daisies, they’ve been artificially colored since they don’t come in blue naturally.
The plants can grow anywhere from 6-18 inches tall. The fuzzy leaf clumps can reach up to 12 inches, and the stems typically grow 6 inches taller than the leaves. The clumps can be divided and propagated to create more plants when grown as perennials.
These daisies can survive temperatures as low as 30°F but will die when the temperatures stay below freezing for too long. If you live in a zone with prolonged freezing temperatures, grow them as annuals or in containers you can bring indoors to overwinter.
Planting gerbera daisies is pretty simple. You can plant them by seed or transplant them, and they work well in the ground or containers. The daisies look beautiful in flower beds as a border plant or focal point. Plant several of them together for a cut flower garden that will draw plenty of attention with their bright flowers and deep foliage.
Growing from Seed
Gerbera daisy seeds germinate best in a soilless medium.
The best way to get gerbera daisy seeds to germinate is to sow them in a soilless medium like coconut coir or sphagnum moss a few weeks before the last frost. Place your medium of choice in flat trays or seed starting containers like the Epic 4-Cell Trays. Put the seed on the medium and lightly cover it.
Keep the medium moist but not wet, ensuring it never dries out. Place the trays under some light. Use a grow light elevated 18 inches above the seeds, or cover the tray with plastic wrap and place it in bright, indirect sunlight.
After seeds sprout and develop their first true leaves, up-pot to larger containers with moist soil. Transplant the seedlings outdoors once they’re several inches tall and strong enough to withstand outdoor temperatures. Although you commonly see blooming daisy seedlings in stores, it’s best to transplant them before they start flowering.
Transplant seedlings after frost risks have passed.
Transplant the seedlings when they’re several inches tall and the danger of frost has passed. Frosty and freezing temperatures will kill the daisies, so it’s important to ensure nighttime temperatures aren’t dipping too low; they should remain above 41°F.
Water the plant well to make it easier to get out of the container and prepare it to go into the ground or container. Carefully pull the plant out of the pot and loosen any rootbound roots.
When planting your daisies, ensure the crown’s top is slightly above the soil line. If it lines up with the soil or is below it, you risk overwatering your plant and causing it to rot. Keeping the crown just above the soil will save you a lot of trouble in the future.
In the Ground
Plant gerbera daisies 12-18 inches apart and protect them from the cold.
If you’re planting your gerbera daisy seedlings outdoors, you’ll need to space them 12-18 inches apart. This will give the leaves plenty of room to spread out while leaving enough airflow to prevent diseases and pests from spreading.
As for depth, only go as deep as necessary to get the rootball into the ground while leaving the crown slightly raised. Backfill with soil as necessary, but don’t cover the crown.
Make sure the area you’re planting your flowers is well draining. The soil should be a sandy loam so excessive moisture can drain out, but the soil will stay dry. The temperature should be warm enough when you plant them, but if the weather is erratic and gets too low for comfort, you can protect your newly planted flowers with a thick layer of mulch and a cloche.
Use well-draining soil in a deep pot with drainage for container planting.
Planting in containers isn’t much different than planting in the ground, but you’ll need to take extra care to get well-draining soil and a container with a drainage hole since the water will have nowhere else to go. Choose a nutrient-rich coarse soil with perlite to ensure it will drain quickly.
Gerbera daisies grow deep roots, so you’ll need a pot that’s at least 12 inches deep. As with other planting methods, the crown should be just above the soil. Don’t bottom water the plant since sitting in water can lead to root rot.
Container daisies can be brought indoors when the temperatures get too cold, allowing you to keep them as perennials rather than annuals. You can take advantage of their portability and move them around as you wish or avoid sudden storms that could damage them.
How to Grow
Growing gerbera daisies is fairly simple. As with any plant, it has specific requirements for success. If you can provide it with what it needs, you can have cut flowers quickly.
Plant these summer flowers with morning sun and afternoon shade for optimal growth.
These bright flowers, often associated with summer, might make you think they need a lot of sun, but they thrive with afternoon shade in hotter climates. Plant them where they’ll receive direct morning sunlight and ample shade in the afternoon. The hot sun can scorch them, so they need a break from the light.
If you’re overwintering them, keep them in a sunny room out of the direct light. Like planting them outdoors, eastern windows will only provide morning sunlight; you can put them right next to the window without any problems. Western or southern windows may expose the flowers to too much direct sunlight, so keep them farther away from the window in rooms facing these directions.
Young gerbera daisies need constant moisture, while mature plants benefit from drier conditions.
Young, newly transplanted gerbera daisies need lots of water. The soil should always be moist and never dry out. Once the plants are mature and established, reduce how much water you give them. The crown should dry out between waterings to reduce the chance of root rot or crown disease.
When you water your daisies, water at the base of the plant to avoid getting the leaves wet. Wet leaves allow diseases and pests to spread easily. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses are great ways to deliver water straight to the root area. If you must use overhead watering or sprinklers, irrigate early in the morning so the leaves will have time to dry out before nighttime.
Plant gerbera daisies in well-draining sandy soil with added nutrients for optimal growth.
Gerbera daisies thrive in rich, sandy soils. Sandy soil is gritty and drains well, reducing the chances of root rot. Add compost or other organic matter to the soil to enrich it with nutrients for a happy plant. Daisies need a soil pH of 5.5-6.5, which is slightly acidic.
If you plant daisies in a container or an outdoor area prone to puddling, sandy soil will help the water drain away from the roots. Make sure your container has drainage holes, and avoid puddling areas as much as possible. Consider building up a small hill to plant your daisies in to help the water drain.
Feed gerbera daisies with compost at planting and regular granular or liquid fertilizers.
Fertilizer will help you get gorgeous daisies to enjoy as cut flowers. Adding compost to the soil when planting or transplanting will give your plants a good start, but they’ll benefit from consistent feedings throughout the growing season. Apply slow-release granular fertilizers two or three times per season or liquid fertilizers twice a month.
Gerbera daisies may have manganese or iron deficiencies that will reveal themselves as yellow leaves. When picking fertilizers, make sure they have these micronutrients so you can ensure your daisies are receiving everything they need.
Maintain daisies by removing spent blooms and lifting them every year or two.
If you want your daisies to last as long as possible, you must pay them attention periodically. They don’t require much, but giving them extra time to ensure they’re properly cared for will be worth the effort.
If you have any spent blooms (you might not if you’re using the flowers in bouquets), remove them as soon as possible. It will encourage the plant to grow more and prolong the growing season. Cut the stem at the base so you don’t have random bare stems poking out.
If you’re growing your daisies as perennials, you’ll need to lift them every year or two. They can get too comfortable where they’re planted and sink into the soil, but the crowns need to stay above ground so they don’t get too wet.
To lift the crown, dig up the plant, backfill the hole with some soil, and replant it so the crown is slightly above the soil. Water it well to help the soil settle, and add more soil as needed. Repositioning shouldn’t upset the plant too much, and you can continue to enjoy your daisies until it’s time to lift it again.
Once you have one gerbera daisy, you’ll want an entire yard full of them. There are a few ways to turn one daisy plant into many.
Save gerbera daisy seeds for next year, but expect variations.
Saving your seeds to supply next year’s garden is rewarding and fun, but remember that gerbera daisy seeds aren’t always true to type. The seeds you collect may not give you the same kind of flower. If you want to “copy and paste” your daisies, you must propagate by cuttings or division, which I’ll explain next. If you don’t mind surprises, go ahead and save those seeds.
To save gerbera daisy seeds, you’ll need to let the flowers finish blooming, die, and dry out. You can let the flowers dry on the plant or cut them off once they start wilting and let them dry indoors in a dry, warm area, preferably by a sunny window.
The seeds will look a lot like dandelion seeds. They’ll have what looks like fluffy fur on the ends that helps them spread. The seeds aren’t ready if the spent flowers don’t have white fuzz on them.
Remove the seeds from the flower head and allow those to dry on a paper towel in the sunlight for about a week to ensure no moisture is left. Moisture during storage is a risk factor for mold.
Once your seeds are dry, you can store them in an airtight container or an envelope. You can use plastic bags if you’re certain there isn’t any moisture left since plastic can add to the mold problem.
When you’re ready to plant your seeds, follow the directions for growing listed above. Your daisies may not be the same as last year’s, but they’ll be gorgeous all the same, and you’ll feel good about having home-harvested gerbera daisies.
Multiply daisies through basal cuttings, using sandy soil and optional rooting hormone.
Basal cuttings are a simple way to multiply your daisy supply. If one or two plants aren’t enough, this method will help you fill out your flower bed. You’ll need a sharp pruning tool like the Felco 321 Harvesting Snips, sandy soil, and optional rooting hormone.
Select new shoots that are about six inches long for successful cuttings. When you see them pop up from your plants, cut them with the shears at the base as close to the crown as possible. Dip the end of the shoot in rooting hormone for optimal growth. (This step isn’t necessary, so don’t fret if you don’t have it on hand.) Plant the shoot in a small pot with nutrient-rich sandy soil. Some gardeners recommend a mix of sand and compost since it’s full of nutrients and drains exceptionally well.
Leave your newly planted shoot in a warm area with plenty of light. Create a propagation station with a good grow light to ensure your plants get plenty of light. Leave them there until they have a sturdy root system that can withstand transplanting, keeping the soil moist but not soggy. Once their roots are well-developed, you can move them to bigger pots or outdoors.
Divide gerbera daisies with a sharp tool, plant immediately, and follow transplanting instructions.
Dividing gerbera daisies is ideal if your plants have gotten too large. Dig up your daisy plant, but avoid damaging too many roots. Using a sharp tool like a Hori Hori Garden Knife, cut through the crown once or twice to separate it into two or three plants.
Remove dead leaves and roots from each plant, as well as all the mature leaves on the lower part of the plant. Plant them immediately, whether they are in the ground or containers. Follow the transplanting directions I mentioned earlier. Keep the soil moist until the roots have set and the plants are established.
This method is best for perennial daisies in warm climates since annuals likely won’t have enough time to need division. If you live in an area that will permit you to grow daisies as perennials, you can divide them any time in spring and summer while the plants are actively growing.
Harvesting and Usage
Harvest gerbera daisies with clean shears and use a wide vase for longer-lasting cut flowers.
If you’re growing gerbera daisies, you’ll probably end up with a vase or two of cut flowers. To get a display that will last as long as possible, you must ensure you harvest them correctly and set them up for success in their vase.
Cut the stems at the base with exceptionally clean shears. You’ll need your flowers to be bacteria-free so your vase doesn’t become its own ecosystem. Once you get your vase, size the flowers so you can cut them to fit. The flowers are top-heavy, and shorter stems will make better supports.
According to the WSU Arboretum, the best way to ensure your daisies will last as long as possible is to use a wide vase with a shallow amount of water rather than a thin vase full of water. Several inches of water will keep the stems wet and weaken the flowers, making them wilt sooner. A shallow pool of water will only affect the very tip of the stem, and you can trim it as needed to get a fresh portion of the stem into the water.
You can make your own plant food mix to help your daisies last. Use two tablespoons of citrus juice, one tablespoon of sugar, and one-quarter teaspoon of bleach per quart of water. Use this mixture instead of regular water, and replace it every 1-2 days. The sugar will provide carbs for the flowers, which they need to stay healthy as cut flowers. The bleach will prevent the sugar from growing microorganisms, and the citrus juice has citric acid that will help lower the pH, which prevents flowers from wilting. Gerbera daisies usually last up to one week, but you may be able to get them to last longer if you take the time to give them extra special care.
Gerbera daisies aren’t without issues, even though they’re pretty easy to care for. Let’s look at some of the problems you may run into and what you can do about them.
Correct overwatering quickly and address any iron deficiencies with fertilizer.
Watering plants can sometimes be a balancing act, so it’s important to know what it looks like when something isn’t right. If the flower heads droop down, making your daisies look sad, they’re overwatered. You may also notice a wet crown. This could be due to poorly draining soil or watering too often. Allow the crown to dry out before you water again to avoid overdoing it.
In most cases, replanting your daisies in better-draining soil saves them from being too wet. Move them to drier soil or add several inches of soil to their existing location. You may be able to let the soil dry out while the flowers are still in it, but this is only if the damage isn’t severe and if the soil drains well.
You may also deal with iron deficiency, indicated by yellowing leaves. The yellow usually appears between the veins in leaves. Find a fertilizer that has iron and feed it to your plants according to the package directions. Prevent this by adding compost to the soil when planting and feeding your flowers regularly.
Protect daisies from pests by washing them off or using neem oil spray.
Gerbera daisies can be a target for many pests. If a plant nearby has pest issues, your daisies might, too. Sap-sucking insects like aphids, thrips, whiteflies, and spider mites can suck the life out of your plants and cause leaves and stems to wither and die. In severe infestations, the entire plant could die. You can easily wash these pests off with water or spray them with neem oil or insecticidal spray. Avoid sprays in the day’s heat if your daisies get afternoon sunlight because you could scorch the leaves.
Leafminers, caterpillars, and cutworms all cause leaf damage. Cutworms and caterpillars eat up the leaves, while leafminer larvae mine their way through the foliage, leaving behind a trail that shows up as a line. Damage from these pests ranges from ruining the visual appeal to killing your plants. It’s better to control these pests sooner rather than later.
The simplest way to get rid of caterpillars and cutworms is to pick them off by hand and drop them into soapy water to kill them. Neem oil will work against all three of these leaf-eating pests. It will disrupt the leafminers’ lifecycle, preventing the young from becoming adults and creating more young. It will suffocate caterpillars and cutworms and eventually kill them.
Prevent daisy diseases with proper watering and spacing.
Gerbera daisy diseases are often due to excess moisture and overcrowding. You can prevent most diseases by watering in the early morning, ensuring the soil doesn’t stay wet, and allowing ample airflow between plants. Try to prevent the plants from touching each other as much as possible. Doing so can also slow down the spread of pests that might spread diseases.
Anthracnose is a fungal disease causing brown spots on leaves that can eventually lead to cankers on stems. You may also spot Botrytis and powdery mildew. Botrytis is a grey mold that will make your flowers unsightly, and powdery mildew is a white mold that will cover the foliage in powder. Fungicides are a preventative treatment that can slow the spread of diseases, but it won’t stop them completely. If you have diseased plants, remove them as soon as possible.
Bacterial plant diseases can be spread by wind, rain, and occasionally pests, so plants should have some space between them. Bacterial leaf spot is a common problem for gerbera daisies. It shows up as big black spots on the leaves at the bottom of the plant. As it spreads through the plant, it can cause cankers in the stems and turn flower heads black.
Prevent this disease by ensuring your seeds aren’t infected, and don’t save seeds from infected plants. You can use copper sprays to stop the spread, but the simplest way to keep your other plants safe is to remove the diseased plants altogether and sanitize your tools before and after each use.
Stem rot, root rot, and crown rot result from overwatering your daisies. They don’t like sitting in water, so drainage is important. All container plants should have drainage holes, and all outdoor plants must be planted in a well-draining area that doesn’t collect water. You can save your plants by replanting them into a drier area before the damage becomes severe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Gerbera daisies are tender perennials in zones 8-10. They’re grown as annuals in colder regions or brought indoors for the winter.
Drooping daisy plants are generally a result of overwatering and must be moved to a dry location.
Gerbera daisies bloom from spring through summer and often through fall if the conditions are right.
Gerbera daisies are bright and cheery and will be delightful in the garden. Whether you want to leave them outside or grow them for cut flower arrangements, the plants look beautiful in ornamental flower beds or edible gardens. Give daisies some afternoon shade, and don’t overdo the water, and you’ll have happy plants that reward you with those pretty blooms.