African Daisy: How To Grow And Care For Osteospermum

The African daisy, with lovely daisy-like flowers, originates from South Africa. Also known as the Cape Daisy or Blue-eyed Daisy (Osteospermum fruticosum) are members of the (Aster plant) Asteraceae family.

This tender perennial of the daisy family wants a frost-free location, enjoys a well-drained soil with lots of sun. The flower does very well in warm areas receiving full sunlight for a number of hours daily. This low spreading bedding plant flowers profusely all summer adding more beauty to your garden or landscape.

african daisy

The African Daisy likes a frost-free location, a well drained soil with lots of sun.

The African daisy as a drought tolerant plant makes for a great addition to gardeners who want plants that produce quantities of flowers in sun and under dry conditions. This South Africa herbaceous native, bears solitary terminal flower heads of ray and disk flowers while leaves may vary from one species to another.

African daisies contribute a colorful palette of flowering plant colors to our gardens, which include: white, yellow, pink, purple, apricot and orange. They look very attractive as ground covers in flowerbeds especially if you mix colors.

Blue-Eyed Daisy Ideal For Beds, Containers and Borders

They grow from 1 to 2 ft. tall in warm sunny locations and love well-drained soils. Ideally suited to low beds or borders and in rock garden as a source of color late in the season. Flowering from early summer until frost.

The plant’s spreading habit covered with an abundance of large daisy-like flowers, generally expand in the sunlight but close towards evening.

In California and other mild States the South they make splendid winter plants. Make sure to  sow african daisy seeds in late fall. In the rest of the United States sow seed indoors in early spring or outdoors in April or May. Propagate the perennial species by cuttings.

The plants brighten up borders, but also make excellent container garden choices when the desire calls for bright, lively, flowering plants. New cultivars continue to expand the color palette, with purples and pinks the most common flower colors. Flower petals vary from regular and smooth to dipped and spoon shaped.

Cape Daisy Biggest Complaint…

The flowers open fully in full sun but close at night seems like the chief complaint about this huge plant group. Many gardeners find african daisies especially useful for producing early bloom in bare open spaces which need planting later in the season.

If you can stand the sight of good earth between the time when old plants mature, shed their seed and die, and the time when the new army of self-sown seedlings appears, select this plant for taking over some neglected, out-of-the-way spot.

African Daisy Care

Light, Planting, Soil and Mulching

These daisies enjoy a warm light soil, good drainage, along with warm days and cool nights.

On the Cape of Good Hope you’ll find the various perennial daisies scattered from sea level up to nine thousand feet. At this altitude, some of them spend the Winter buried in snow, and should certainly be hardy in Winter-cold climates.

When planting, make a hole the same size and depth as the root ball and keep the plant at the same level. Spacing between plants should be 8 to 10 inches.

When using mulch in the bed, do not mulch right up to the stem.

Water Regularly

Unless there is rainfall, watering your daisies once a week should be sufficient. Do not overwater during Summer’s drought… like the native plants of Mexico and of California, these South Africans need a period of dry weather.

Use An All-Purpose Fertilizer

When blooming, daisies require lots of nutrients. Apply an all-purpose fertilizer every month during their growing/blooming season. If using a liquid food apply weekly.

Pruning And Deadheading Daisies – After blooms become withered, cut dead leaves and blossoms to stimulate growth and produce more flowers.

Like deadheading pruning and pinching allows plants to remain bushy and continually produce flower blooms and reduces plant over-crowding.

Removing overcrowding foliage and stems will allow plants to receive plenty of sunlight but also remove the breeding ground of diseases like gray mold and powdery mildew, and pests like aphids and whitefly. Pruned daisies will look healthier and more beautiful than the bushes.

Propagation

Cuttings – The stock of all my South Africans came to me by cuttings from other “collectors” but seeds offer a large assortment. Softwood cuttings root easily anytime of the year using a rooting hormone.

Seeds – Seeds start easily by sowing them on a bed of well draining seed starting soil mix. They take about two weeks to germinate after sowing. Maintain an ideal temperature of around 65 degrees for seeds to germinate well.

Insects and Disease

Few insects and diseases affect the African daisy. On rare occasions when insects or diseases attack, treat them with fungicides or insecticidal soap at the earliest sign of trouble.

Buying Tips – Selecting African Daisy Plants

African Daisies make excellent garden choices, paying off with an abundance of blooms during the summer and fall. When selecting Osteospermums at your local garden center, look for well branched compact plants.

The More Important Varieties Include:

Dimorphotheca annua, a rough, hairy annual plant, the rays being white or yellowish above and purplish on the under side. Var. ligulosa is double, with white rays which are yellow or violet on the under surface. Var. ringens has a deep-blue ring around the center.

Dimorphotheca aurantiaca, a perennial, often shrubby and blossoms the first season with rays of orange-yellow. There are many hybrids in white, sulphur-yellow, golden-yellow, salmon, rose and apricot.

Osteospermum ecklonis, a perennial, to 2 ft. Upper side of rays white, under side steely lavender; the disk is dark and ringed with blue.

Cape marigold, Dimorphotheca annua, is one of the best South African annuals for massed effect and a colony of its white flowers equals the dull tangerine orange and yellow shades of Dimorphotheca aurantiaca in beauty. Avoid watering the leaves and flowers to avoid fungal diseases.

Gerbera jamesonii or Gerbera daisy – an indigenous plant from South Eastern Africa tall colorful flowers of pink, red, yellow or orange. This perennial species reproduces asexually.

Its starch white daisies are flat and broad and the purple on the under side of the rays shows through, in some lights giving a bluish cast.

Some flower heads have a dark purple spot at the base of each ray and these blotches form a ring around the yellow center.

Conclusion

African daisies add colorful value to the garden. Easy to maintain, requiring regular watering weekly and fertilizers once a month. Pest and diseases do not pose a big issue. They also deliver lots of color for little work. Give the African Daisy flower a try… it deserves to be included in your garden.

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