Name: African daisy, South African daisy, Veldt daisy (Osteospermum ecklonis cvs).
Plant type: small, short-lived (2–3 years) flowering perennial.
Height: around 50–75cm tall by up to 1.3m across, mounding or sprawling form.
Foliage: narrow to slightly elongated oval shape, around 8–15cm long, width variable. Soft feel, sometimes slightly furry, light to mid-green. Strongly aromatic.
Climate: arid, tropical, sub-tropical, warm temperate and sheltered areas of cool temperate.
Soil: adaptable to most types, tolerates poor soil including sandy or gravelly soil. Will not tolerate heavy, clay soil or wet soil conditions.
Position: full sun; will become very straggly in shade, and unlikely to flower.
Flowering: late winter through to summer. Spot flowers year-round. Flowers are a classic daisy type, around 8cm across on slender stems. Species form has white petals, darker beneath with blue/purple eye. Vast range of colours available in cultivars—white, mauve, purple, yellow and mixes. Some have “fancy” petals.
Feeding: application of quality controlled-release fertiliser at planting time and then annually in spring. Regular applications of seaweed-based product during growth and flowering periods.
Watering: little required once established. Supplementary watering during very hot or dry periods will improve performance.
Hailing mainly from South Africa and sometimes called African or cape daisies because of its daisy-like blooms, osteospermum can flower almost year-round. It copes well in heat and is not too fussed about the quality of soil it is grown in. It prefers full sun to encourage its daisy-like flowers to fully open, but can cope with some shade.
Depending on the variety, osteospermum is generally low-growing and can spread a metre or more, with evergreen grey-green foliage. Modern plant breeding has produced a gorgeous array of more compact plants with a vast selection of vibrant colours, including oranges, pinks, reds, carmines, terracottas, mauves, yellows, purples, whites and combinations. Some muted pastel tones make excellent decorator plants when teamed with other colours around a house. Many also boast a deep purple or blue “eye” (centre) that contrasts brilliantly with the outer petals, while others have yellow centres.
A popular newer variety is the buttery yellow and blue-centred Blue Eyed Beauty. Other osteospermums have pinched petal ends that give them a highly architectural look. These newer osteospermums tend to flower from spring to autumn, although some can flower as early as late winter.
Osteospermum can play a multitude of roles in a garden. The plants are stunning when massed, can be grown in pots and planters, work well as groundcovers to prevent weed growth, and shine in seaside gardens. It makes an excellent rockery plant, beautifully filling out the undulations between rocks. Most of the more compact, newer varieties are perfect for growing in pots and hanging baskets on patios, adding a fabulous splash of colour. Osteospermum also makes a wonderful cut flower for indoor display.
Osteospermum copes with moderate frost but can be affected by extreme winters.
Osteospermum is best pruned of older foliage in early spring or autumn to eliminate leggy growth and to encourage fresh new foliage. Some gardeners like to snip off wilted blooms to extend flowing.
Osteospermum is affected by few diseases and pests, although it can attract snails. Laying snail bait will quickly fix the problem. In humid or wet conditions, grey mould can become a problem. This can sometimes be contained by spraying a fungicide.
Some varieties can be grown from seed, but most people prefer buying seedlings or small plants.
New plants can be propagated from tip cuttings taken in mid to late summer.
Lavender: long-flowering shrubs with scented foliage and flowers.
Chrysanthemum: showy daisy flowers on a perennial plant.
Hebe: long-flowering, easy-to-grow evergreen shrub.
Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing.
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