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Osteospermum - Growing and Caring for African Daisies

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Osteospermum 'Soprano White'

Osteospermum 'Soprano White' has the pure white petals and blue center that gave rise to the common name of Blue-Eyed Daisy.

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Overview:

Osteospermum, or African daisies made a big splash in display gardens in the 1990s. They looked a little like daisies and they are in the Asteraceae family, along with Shasta daisies and zinnia. But when African daisies were first introduced to the market, they had coloring we weren't used to seeing. Many of they center disks looked as though they were colored with metallic paint.

Osteospermum are often labeled as tender perennials or half-hardy perennials. While they are perennial plants in their native climate, few plants survive in USDA Hardiness Zones below 9.

  • Leaves: The leaves will vary by variety. They can be lance-like or broadly ovate and smooth, toothed or lobed.

  • Flowers: Petals can be smooth and flat, like a daisy, or radiate out in a tubular, spoon-shape. There are many color combinations ( lavender, pink, white, yellow and bi-color) and more introduced each year. Bi-color

Botanical Name:

Osteospermum x hybrida (oss-tee-oh-SPUR-mum)

Common Name:

African Daisy, Blue-eyed Daisy, Cape Daisy, Osteo

Hardiness:

USDA Hardiness Zones 9 and higher. Osteospermum is generally grown as an annual.

Sun Exposure:

Full sun to Partial Shade. They will bloom more profusely in full sun, but they appreciate some shade in hot weather.

Mature Size:

12 - 36" (30.5 - 91.4 cm) H x 12 - 24" (30.5 - 36cm)

Bloom Period

Repeat blooms May through Fall, although flowering diminishes and can come to a complete standstill during hot, dry weather.

Suggesetd Varieties:

  • '3D™' - Fluffy, tufted centers and flowers that remain open all day, even in heat. 14" H.

  • 'Flower Power Spider White' - odd, spoon-shaped white and lavender petals with gold center. 14" H.

  • 'Lemon Symphony' - Butter-yellow petals with a purple center and orange eye. 14" H.

  • 'Serenity Lavender Frost' - white flowers with a purple center disk 14" H.

  • 'Sideshow Copper Apricot' - Pale apricot flowers with a purple center disk. 12" H.

Design Suggestions:

Osteospermum work equally well in the garden or in containers. Because they can stop blooming during hot spells, they are best planted in combinations.

The funky colors can be hard to combine with other flowers. Pairing them with complementary foliage is a great way to incorporate them into a planting and guaranteeing there will be color, even when the plants are not in bloom. Yellow and chartreuse foliage allows most of Osteospermum's color combinations to shine. Heuchera like 'Key Lime Pie', Golden Japanese Forest Grass and Coleus 'The Line' all provide a vivid backdrop as well as a textural difference.

For varieties with blue centers, like 'Soprano White', pairing them with blue flowers like salivia and veronica, will highlight their striking centers.

Growing Tips:

Soil: Most Osteospermum prefer an acidic soil with soil pH of 5.0 - 5.5.

Planting: Most Osteospermum varieties are hybrids and will not grow true from saved seed. Many plants are even sterile. However you can find seed for sale and if you are not concerned what colors your plants turn out to be, you can try sowing the seeds you save. Osteospermum need light to germinate, so just sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil and press lightly, to make firm contact. Keep the seeds moist until they germinate.

Osteospermum can easily be reproduced by cuttings.

Maintenance: Although drought tolerant once established, Osteospermum still need at least and inch of water per week, to grow their best. During periods of drought or intense heat, the plants will slow down and go dormant.

When grown as an annual, Osteospermum needs some supplemental fertilizer every 2-3 weeks, especially when grown in a container.

Deadheading the spent flowers isn't crucial, since many plants are sterile and don't produce any seed. However it will keep the plants looking tidy.

Osteospermum cultivars prefer cooler weather and they really don't like the combination of hot and dry. During periods of drought, be prepared for the plants to gradually cease blooming and go dormant. Cut them back and keep them watered. They should resume blooming in the fall.

A 1999 All America Selection, Osteospermum 'Passion Mix' was bred to be more heat tolerant and it can handle heat better than most other varieties. It is also a compact plant topping out at about 12 inches high. The flowers come in a wide varieties of colors (pink, purple, rose and white), all with blue centers, and it can be grown from seed.

Pests & Problems:

  • Disease: Gray mold can develop in damp or humid conditions. Good air circulation will help and a general purpose fungicide can be used, if necessary. Plants are also susceptible to root rot, in wet soil.

  • Insects: Whitefly and aphids can become a problem, but can be controlled if caught early.

  • Animals: By far the biggest problem is groundhogs. They will devour the entire plant.

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