Osteospermum ecklonis

Osteospermum ecklonis

Osteospermum is a genus of some 70 species of annuals, perennials and evergreen sub shlrubs from mountainous, forest edge or grassland habitats in southern Africa and the Arabian peninsula. It has several common names: African Daisy, South African Daisy, Cape Daisy and Blue-eyed Daisy.

They are mostly tender or half-hardy, but a few are reliably hardy, and hybrids are being produced from these which are also hardy. In frost – prone areas the more tender types can be treated as annuals.
Osteospermum have three features that commend them to the gardener:

  1. A very long flowering season
  2. They are evergreen
  3. They make excellent ground cover

Their daisy-like flower heads have ray florets of pink, white or yellow- with a wider range of shades available in the cultivars and often with contrasting, darker disc florets.

800px-Daisy1web

Osteospermum Daisyweb

Osteospermums are relatively new to most gardeners, and were almost unheard of 25 years ago. They have risen in popularity in the last decade as they have become more commercially available. Osteospermums have now become very popular as summer bedding plants, either to put in the border or in pots. The prostrate varieties can be used in hanging baskets. Osteospermums require full sun for the flowers to fully open, although while half-closed it is possible to appreciate the different colours on the underneath of the petals. Some old favourites such as ‘Whirligig’ and ‘Pink Whirls’ have spoon shaped petals. There are also stunning variegated leaf varieties available such as ‘Giles Gilbey’ and ‘Silver Sparkler’.

As well as preferring a warm and sunny position they like rich, well drained soil- a sunny bank is ideal. They also  tolerate poor soil, salt or drought well. Modern cultivars flower continuously when watered and fertilised well, and dead-heading to prevent self seeding is not necessary, because they do not set seed easily, Deadheading will improve and prolong flowering, however. They make good cut flowers. If planted in a container, soil should be prevented from drying out completely. If they do, the plants will go into “sleep mode” and survive the period of drought, but they will abort their flower buds and not easily come back into flower. Moreover, roots are relatively susceptible to rotting if watered too profusely after the dry period. Regrettably, like most daisy- like flowers, they are highly allergenic. They are prone to downy mildew in wet areas.

O. 'Lemon Symphony'

O. ‘Lemon Symphony’

Sources and further information:

Osteospermum.com

Wikipedia

RHS plant selector

BBC- O. jucundum

Old School Gardener

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