Q: I am having extreme difficulties growing Gerber daisies for my daughter’s wedding. I just can not get them to stay healthy. I hear nothing but problems and tales of woe from others. Any sage advice?
A: Gerber daisies are beautiful when they’re happy and dead when they’re not. In my experience, their normal happy life span in a garden is two months. These natives of South Africa demand sandy soil, regular watering and regular feeding. Choose a spot that receives direct morning sun until 1:00 p.m. Make a bed by removing all soil to six inches deep. Mix a third of the soil with equal amounts of both gritty sand and ground pine bark. This environment will be very well drained but will hold moisture for a few days between waterings. Plant Gerber’s so the crown (the stem just above the roots) is above the soil line. Do not allow water to get into the crown. Fertilize with one of the slow-release fertilizers (Osmocote, Dynamite, etc). Although Gerber daisies are perennial in south Georgia, treat them as an annual in the northern half of the state.