African Daisy

In its native South Africa, the African daisy bursts into bloom when the spring rains come, although in gardens plants bloom copiously all summer. A tender perennial, it is grown most commonly as an annual. Like many of the plants in the daisy family from South Africa, it’s tough enough to live in hot, dry conditions, but a modicum of moisture will bring out stellar blooms. On dull days and at night, arctotis closes its flowers.

Description of African daisy: The native species has pearly white flowers centered with steel-blue and encircled with a narrow, yellow band. The flowers are held well above the plant, which forms a compact mound. The leaves are handsome grayish-green that combines well with other colors in the garden. Hybrids with flowers up to 4 inches in diameter have brought other colors — yellow, cream, white, purple, orange, and red.

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Growing African daisy: Bright sunny days and cool nights are ideal. Arctotis also thrives in mild winter areas with high winter light. The plant needs full sun and will tolerate lots of abuse. With richer soil and moderate moisture, there are larger flowers and lusher foliage. Fertilize only lightly. Where summers are very hot, arctotis may cease flowering but will resume again when cooler weather prevails.

Propagating African daisy: By seed primarily, although cuttings of choice kinds will root quickly. Sow indoors 6 to 8 weeks prior to last frost at 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Seeds germinate in 15 to 20 days. Plant 8 to 10 inches apart at the same depth they were growing in the flat or pot. For later flowers, sow outdoors after danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed somewhat. Thin garden seedlings to 8 to 10 inches apart.

Uses for African daisy: Plant arctotis in beds or borders where full sun is available. They will tolerate growing in dry rock gardens for early season bloom. They will also bloom indoors in cool sunrooms or greenhouses.

African daisy related varieties: Several seed strains are available, often sold as Arctosis grandis, an obsolete name.

Scientific name of African daisy: Arctotis stoechadifolia

African Daisy

A fairly infrequently used annual, arctotis (or African daisy) is a tough plant native to South Africa. These plants have beautiful silver/grey foliage that lays the groundwork for a stunning floral display. The blooms of this plant come in a wide array of colors that can put on quite the show for an extended period of time in mild climates.

genus name
  • Arctotis
light
  • Sun
plant type
  • Annual
height
  • 1 to 3 feet
width
  • 1 foot wide
flower color
  • Purple,
  • Red,
  • Orange,
  • White,
  • Pink,
  • Yellow
foliage color
  • Blue/Green,
  • Gray/Silver
season features
  • Spring Bloom,
  • Fall Bloom,
  • Summer Bloom,
  • Winter Bloom
special features
  • Attracts Birds,
  • Good for Containers
zones
  • 9,
  • 10,
  • 11
propagation
  • Seed,
  • Stem Cuttings

Colorful Combinations

Daisy-like blooms burst from the plant every morning. The blooms all consist of a row of showy outer petals in bright colors and a compact “eye” in the center. The eye of the bloom comes in many different colors, typically brown, gold, pink, or green. While the majority of the flowers come in solid colors, some fade into another color toward the center of the bloom for an almost tie-dye effect. These happy flowers can cover a plant in the right season and hold on for quite a long time. With so many colors to choose from, there’s no reason not to try out an African daisy.

As if the flower color palette wasn’t enough, these South African natives have silver/gray foliage that lends another visual appeal to the overall plant. When paired with the bright jewel-toned blooms, the silver foliage really sets off the vibrant blossoms for a great visual effect in a mass planting or as a stand-alone specimen.

Try growing African daisy in a container.

African Daisy Care Must-Knows

Because these plants hail from extremely sandy and rocky areas like the dunes of South Africa, African daisies need well-drained soils in order to perform their best. This, however, doesn’t mean that they like to stay too hot and dry. In fact, their climate is typically very mild. When grown in areas with hot summers, African daisies take a break from blooming and focus on surviving the stressful heat of the summer. Once things start to cool back down, the show picks up where it left off and will bloom until frost. If you are planning on using African daisies in your garden, treat them as a cool season bloom as you would pansies and stocks in warmer areas.

Another important thing to consider when deciding where to plant African daisy is that its blooms close up at night. Blooms sometimes don’t even fully open when it’s overcast or bad weather. So if you plan on planting in an area that is most used in the evening hours, it might be a good idea to find a substitute that can better be enjoyed in the evening.

To keep the show going all season, it’s best to remove any old, spent blossoms from the plants. This will help encourage new growth and keep plants producing flowers longer. If you are planning on using African daisies each year, save some of the seeds from the spent blossoms and start them a couple weeks before the last frost. They’ll be ready to sow outdoors once its safe from frost.

More Varieties of African Daisy

‘Pink Sugar’ African Daisy

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Arctotis ‘Pink Sugar’ features sunset hues of pink and orange that give this cultivar brilliant style. Its silvery foliage is a bonus. Count on it to produce hundreds of blooms over the course of the season. It grows 14 inches tall and 10 inches wide.

‘The Ravers Hearts and Tarts’ African Daisy

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Arctotis ‘The Ravers Hearts and Tarts’ has gray-green foliage and orange-and-pink flowers. It grows 12 inches tall and 16 inches wide.

Plant African Daisy With:

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Angelonia is also called summer snapdragon, and once you get a good look at it, you’ll know why. It has salvia-like flower spires that reach a foot or 2 high, but they’re studded with fascinating snapdragon-like flowers with beautiful colorations in purple, white, or pink. It’s the perfect plant for adding bright color to hot, sunny spaces. This tough plant blooms all summer long with spirelike spikes of blooms. While all varieties are beautiful, keep an eye out for the sweetly scented selections. While most gardeners treat angelonia as an annual, it is a tough perennial in Zones 9-10. Or, if you have a bright, sunny spot indoors, you can keep it flowering all winter.

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The quintessential cottage flower, pinks are treasured for their grasslike blue-green foliage and abundant starry flowers, which are often spicily fragrant. Depending on the type of pink, flowers appear in spring or summer and tend to be pink, red, white, rose, or lavender, but they come in nearly all shades except true blue. Plants range from tiny creeping groundcovers to 30-inch-tall cut flowers, which are a favorite with florists. Foliage is blue-green. Shown above: ‘Firewitch’ dianthus

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Stock offers a wonderfully spicy, distinctive scent. Plant it in spring several weeks before your region’s last frost date—this annual thrives in cool temperatures and stops blooming once hot weather arrives. It’s especially wonderful in window boxes and planters at nose level, where its sometimes subtle fragrance can best be appreciated. Stock is slightly spirelike and comes in a wide range of colors. It makes a great cut flower, perfuming bouquets as well as the border. It grows best in full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil.

African daisies (Arctotis) are happy flowering annuals. They add perk and smile to any sunny garden location. The flowers produce and drop seeds that allow for new growth the following year in some warmer regions. And, it is grown as a tender perennial in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 8 through 11. This easy-going plant is drought tolerant, and it can even take a bit of frost.

African daisies originated in South Africa where they grow wild and abundant. Original African daisies only opened their blooms in the full sun. They would close when it was shady or dark. Growers in Europe and in the United States decided they wanted to see more of this pretty flower’s face.

They developed cultivars that stay open for longer periods in the daytime. The foliage is silvery and soft, like Lamb’s ear. The flowers range in color from cool whites and violets to the warmer shades of pink, red, orange, and yellow.

How to Grow and Care for African Daisies

African daisies are easy to grow. They like lots of sun and good air circulation. They don’t care for wet feet. So, choose a sunny location with well draining soil, and your African daisies will be happy. They have a reputation for “thriving on neglect.” So, don’t worry too much about these guys once they are established in your garden.

To plant, begin indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost of the season. Once the frost has passed, plant your transplants outdoors, or sow your African daisy seeds directly in the garden. Water well until the young plant is well established. Then, water regularly, but don’t overwater.

Expect your African daisy to grow to between 1 and 2 feet tall. Allow this plant plenty of breathing room. Space your plants 6 inches to 1 foot apart. To encourage your plant to bloom from late spring well into the fall, cut the flowers and use them in a vase. Deadhead those that you don’t snip off to enjoy indoors.

Allow the seeds to dry on the plants, and at the end of the growing season, harvest your seeds directly from the flower heads. Clean your African daisy seeds by sifting them through mesh to separate the chaff from the seed before you store the seeds. This step will help to prevent fungus from ruining the seeds for the next planting.

Pests and Problems for African Daisies

African daisies are hearty plants. They can tolerate a wide variety of growing conditions. However, they are prone to fungal diseases. Lots of sun and good air circulation are important for this plant’s health, especially in humid climates.

African daisies are also vulnerable to aphids. Since African daisies tend be annual flowers, the best way to protect against aphids is to plant a few marigolds alongside your daisies. The marigolds are annuals too, and they will act as a repellent to the aphids. The marigolds will stand guard and protect your African daisies throughout the growing season.

African Daisy Varieties to Try

‘African Blue Eyed Daisy’ is a lovely cultivar that grows on a strong stem. It is a great choice for cut flowers. This is an average sized African daisy plant that grows about 20 inches tall and 24 inches wide.

‘Harlequin Mix’ is a bright mix of yellows and whites with broad 3 to 4 inch blooms and wide centers. In spite of the larger blooms, this is a dainty variety. At 15 inches tall and 18 inches wide, this is a suggested choice for a container plant.

Want to learn more about growing African Daisies?

Don’t miss these resources:
African Daisy Growing Guide from Cornell University
Success with Vegetative Osteospermum from NC State University Commercial Floriculture Extension & Research

Do You Trim African Daisies: When And How To Prune African Daisy Plants

Native to South Africa, African daisy (Osteospermum) delights gardeners with a profusion of brightly colored flowers throughout the long summer blooming season. This tough plant tolerates drought, poor soil and even a certain amount of neglect, but it rewards regular care, including an occasional trim. Let’s learn the lowdown on pruning African daisies.

African Daisy Pruning

African daisy is a perennial in the warm climates of USDA plant hardiness zone 9 or 10 and above, depending on the variety. Otherwise, the plant is grown as an annual. To keep them healthy and flowering, it helps to know a little about how to prune African daisy plants – which may consist of pinching, deadheading, and trimming.

  • Pinching young African daisies two or three times early in the growing season creates a sturdy stem and a full, bushy plant. Simply pinch the tips of new growth, removing the stem to the second set of leaves. Don’t pinch the plant after flower buds appear, as you’ll delay blooming.
  • Regular deadheading, which involves pinching or cutting wilted flowers down to the next set of leaves, is a simple way to encourage continued blooming throughout the season. If the plant isn’t deadheaded, it naturally goes to seed and blooming ceases much earlier than you’d like.
  • Like many plants, African daisies can get long and leggy in midsummer. A light trim keeps the plant neat and tidy while encouraging new blooms. To give the plant a summer haircut, use garden shears to remove one-third to one-half of each stem, paying particular attention to older branches. The trim will stimulate growth of fresh new foliage.

When to Cut Back African Daisies

If you live in USDA plant hardiness zone 9 or above, perennial African daisies benefit from an annual pruning. Cut the plant to the ground in late fall or early spring. Either time is acceptable, but if you are set on a tidy garden going into winter, you may want to prune in autumn.

On the other hand, if you appreciate the textural appearance of the African daisy “skeletons,” you may want to wait until early spring. Waiting until spring also provides seed and shelter for songbirds and offers protection for the roots, especially when insulating leaves are trapped in the dead stems.

African Daisy

A little bit about the African daisy

No prizes for guessing where this exotic beauty is from. But in Sydney, African daisies have proven to be just as tough and easy to grow as they are in their homeland. Come winter, they reveal a showy, generous mass of flowers that close in low light. Petals come in a range of shades, from white, creamy yellow and orange, to bold pink, purple and red. If you can’t decide on one colour, the ‘Passion Mix’ variety features pink, mauve and white in one plant. African daisy stems and leaves are coated in matted, downy hairs, giving them silvery-green colour. Low and fast-growing, the African daisy makes great ground cover and looks equally great in a pot.

Osteospermum Passion Mix, a beautiful and very popular purple and white African Daisy variety,

Botanical name: Osteospermum

Height: 30 to 60 centimetres Width: One metre or more

Ideal position: African daisies rely on the sun to open completely, so they love full sun, as well as sandy, well-draining soil. They will tolerate moderate frost.

Suitable spots: Plant your African daisies in the garden or in a container.

When do they bloom? A mass of flowers appear from winter through to spring.

Pests and diseases to watch out for: Keep caterpillars and snails away with Amgrow Caterpillar & Insect Spray and Multiguard Snail & Slug Killer.

Caring tips

How to prepare for planting

Dig through cow manure before planting. African daisies like to spread, so make sure you give them plenty of space.

Feed

Giving your plant a monthly liquid feed will help it produce more flowers.

Prune

You can prolong flowering by deadheading your plant once the first flush of flowers are finished.

Watering

While African daisies are drought tolerant, they will give you more flowers if watered well throughout the growing season.

Know your Daisies

Choose wisely and sunny daisies can be cheering up your garden all year.

There are daisies for garden beds and for containers in warm colours and cool. Here are a handful of favourites.

Osteospermum ‘Blue-eyed beauty’. Photo – Dan Wheatley

African daisy

Osteospermum

Large, showy flowers with dark centres adorn these South African natives through spring and summer. Tolerant of full sun, some salt, mild drought and frost, they make colourful fillers and ground covers in cottage and coastal gardens. Most will reach 30-60cm tall in a loose bun shape. Prune to shape in autumn. A favourite is ‘Blue Eyed Beauty’ with yellow petals and an iridescent centre.

Australian daisy Brachyscome ‘Pacific Breeze’. Photo – Robin Powell

Australian daisy

Brachyscome

This spreading, bun-shaped native has yellow-centred, blue-lilac flowers for most of the year, with large flushes in spring and summer. Try it as a ground cover or container spill-over in full sun to part-shade. Many species and cultivars are available, most 10-30cm tall. For something different try ‘Pacific Coast’, a showy pink. Tip-prune spent blooms to promote more flowers.

Seaside daisy

Seaside daisy

Erigeron karvinskianus

This trailing ground cover plant, originally from Mexico, is covered throughout summer in white flowers that age to pink. It spot flowers at other times, and is tolerant of neglect, drought, second-line salt, swimming pool splash and root competition. Prune to shape after flowering. ‘Spindrift’ has a neat compact habit.

Federation Daisy

Federation daisy

Argyranthemum frutescens

Winter is peak flowering time for these single or double flowers in white, pink, yellow or red. They grow to 60cm high and wide, in full sun to part-shade. One plant will easily fill a good-sized pot. In the garden, mass-plant them for a showy display or to create a colourful informal hedge. Protect from strong winds and prune after flowering, by no more than one-third.

Everlasting Daisy. Photo – Robin Powell

Everlasting daisy

Bracteantha bracteata

Papery white, yellow, pink or orange flowers bloom from spring to autumn in a sunny spot. Plants range in size from 30cm-1m tall. Pick the flowers to enjoy them indoors, and to keep plants tidy. ‘Daisy Fields Gold’ has pretty lemon flowers.

Strawflower rhodanthe ‘Paper star’

Strawflower

Rhodanthe sp.

These native annuals and short-lived perennials flower white from pink buds, and their papery flowers last well in a vase. Full sun to part-shade and good drainage will ensure they reach 15-30cm tall and wide. Cast seed in autumn to create drifts of flowers in spring. We prefer perennial types such as ‘Paper Star’ and ‘Paper Baby’.

Shasta daisy. Photo – Vahan Abrahamyan /

Shasta daisy

Leucanthemum x superbum

Annual and perennial daisies with golden centres and white ray florets, these flower from late spring to autumn, forming large clumps in sunny positions with moist, well-drained soil. Use them to fill out borders and cottage gardens. Grow from seed, cuttings or self-layering. Prune in autumn, after flowering. Excellent cut flower.

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