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Name: treasure flower, gazania, Gazania rigens and varieties
Height: ground-covering herbaceous perennial usually no more than 50cm high
Foliage: green or grey-green, narrow, pointed leaves; some are downy; some have a light underside.
Climate: sub-tropical to temperate; drought-hardy; frost-tolerant.
Soil: well-drained; tolerant of poor soils; the better the soil, the better the plant will grow and flower.
Position: full sun; tolerant of light shade, but too much shade inhibits flowering.
Flowering: daisy flowers in bright colours and multi-colours, some with dark centres.
Feeding: use a long-term, controlled-release fertiliser.
Watering: water when conditions are hot and dry; good drainage is essential.
Gazania plants are quite variable. They are low growing (between 15 and 45cm in height), with some types forming dense clumps while others are spreading. In all but very cold areas, they are evergreen and long-lived, although some gardeners treat them as annuals.
Gazania has either green or grey-green narrow, pointed leaves. Some are smooth, others have a downy feel. In some varieties, the underside of the leaves is light, almost white.
Gazania flowers bloom from spring well into autumn. The central disc of the flower is usually yellow or orange. The base of each of the florets or petals may be quite dark, with the colour either encircling the centre of the gazania flower or radiating out from it.
Gazania thrives in full sun in warm to hot climates—arid regions suit it very well! It dislikes cold, wet winters.
Gazania can be grown from seeds, cuttings and divisions of older plants.
Growing gazania from seeds
Growing gazania from cuttings
Cuttings can be planted the same way as seeds.
Often trailing stems will grow roots along their length where they touch the soil, and these make excellent new plants when cut off for transplanting elsewhere.
This habit can also result in gazania becoming a “garden escapee”—cut stems discarded thoughtlessly will root along roads and pathways. You may have seen clumps of gazania flowers growing on foreshore dunes and in bushland. In some areas, gazania is on “Do not plant” lists for this reason, so check with your local council before planting.
Gazania plants are not fussy about soils so long as they are well-drained, but plants will grow best in a sandy or gritty soil. For pots, use a cacti and succulent or bonsai potting mix that includes coarse sand.
Gazania is not affected by salt spray, so is perfect for coastal planting, provided you keep it on your property!
After planting gazania, water it every few days to settle it in. Once it starts growing, cut back the watering. Gazania is capable of living on just natural rainfall alone, but it will grow and flower better if given a drink every few weeks when the weather is very hot and dry.
Apart from that, and a twice-yearly application of controlled-release fertiliser, gazania really is low maintenance.
While not absolutely necessary for promoting more flowers, you can trim off dead flowers—this keeps the plants looking neat.
Gazania can suffer from fungal diseases including downy mildew during warm, humid weather. Keep an eye out for this during times when nights are warm. Reduce humidity around plants by not watering late in the day. Using a fungicide isn't usually required, unless the plant is starting to die off.
Gazania may rot at soil level if its roots are too wet. Either improve drainage so water doesn’t collect around them, or cut back on watering to allow the soil to dry out.
The only pests that do real harm to gazania are slugs and snails, and this is normally only when plants are small. However, gazania’s intertwining stems and carpeting habit makes it an ideal refuge for these pests. You can “bury” baits inside plants to control these pests if they are in plague proportions.
Gerbera: colourful daisy-like flowers and similar habit to gazania, but not as hardy; good cut flower.
Chrysanthemum: showy and brightly coloured flowering perennials often associated with Mother's Day.
Pyrethrum daisy: white petal and yellow-centred daisy; good companion plant in the vegetable garden.
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