Learn more about the African daisy flowers and discover their three different types including some gardening tips and interesting facts. These cheery flowers are a vibrant addition to your garden.
The genus Osteospermum (African Daisy) belongs to the family Asteraceae which encompasses sunflowers and daisies. The daisy bush as it also gets called officially belongs to the Calenduleae “tribe.” These cheery, brightly colored flowers spruce up any garden or window box. While people tend to think of the wild daisies growing by the roadside with their quarter to half-dollar-sized blooms, the daisy family actually spans a massive selection of flowering plant options.
You have an entire rainbow of colors, shades, and hues from which to choose. This branch of the daisy family produces a vibrant array of colors and some unique shapes in petals. Choose from various heights between three inches to nearly three feet. This lets you add interest and a three-dimensional effect to your garden.
The African daisy earned its name for its birthplace. African daisies feature an elegant flower with spiked petals that droop a little. Its varieties get easily confused with one another because the group of flowers known as African daisies carries the nicknames of Floss Flower, Bluemink, and Blueweed.
These fluffy flowers come in a variety of colors including white, blue, lavender, and pink. If you love having butterflies and bees in your yard, these flowers attract them. Growing African Daisy plants beautify your garden in more than one way.
Types of African Daisies Flowers
The daisy looks similar the world over and a multitude of varieties exist, indigenous to most continents. The petals resemble rays of sunshine and form a disc shape. The flat petals create a flower similar in shape to a sunflower. In fact, the daisy belongs to the same family as sunflowers, zinnias, chrysanthemums, asters, and dandelions.
What you won’t see covered in this article are many types of daisies you probably have heard of or seen planted locally. Those lovely varieties simply did not begin life in Africa, so they do not fit into this article. They include Argyranthemum frutescens (Marguerite Daisy) from the Canary Islands, Leucanthemum vulgare (Oxeye Daisy) from Europe, Tanacetum coccineum (Painted Daisy) from Asia, Brachyscome iberidifolia (Swan River Daisy) from Australia, and Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy) a hybrid from Europe and Japan.
So, what is an African daisy plant? Read on to learn the differences and which daisy flower would work best for your garden.
Bellis perennis (English daisy)
The name English daisy might seem confusing because it actually originated in Northern Africa. It also is indigenous to Europe and western Asia. This bright flower features pink petals with a yellow center. Some locales consider it a weed due to its quick spread. This species features yellow-centered flowers with white petals. It includes other cultivars such as the Galaxy Red with button flowers.
Others have semi-double flowers. These cultivars provide more glitz and less invasive spread. The English daisy can also confuse people because it can be both an annual and a biennial. It achieves this nifty trick through its hardiness. In USDA growing zones four through eight the flowers grow as biennials since the warmth in these zones encourages that. In the cooler areas of the US, it grows as an annual. Many people use this low-growing daisy as ground cover. This lawn daisy looks great with clover.
• Sun/shade needed: full sun
• Water needed:
• Hardiness USDA zone: zones 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8
• Height: three to six inches
Gerbera jamesonii (Gerbera Daisy)
Frequently mispronounced as the Gerber daisy, there is an “a” on the end and this tall flower should not be confused with Gerber baby food. Totally not the same thing. This elegant flower features a red center and salmon pink petals. In 2013, the National Garden Bureau dubbed it the Year of the Gerbera since its popularity with gardeners had spiked.
Native to South Africa, this perennial can only grow in warm climates. You can grow these bright South African daisy flowers in any zone in a container garden though. During warm weather you keep the container outside; when cold weather threatens, you bring them inside.
Gardeners often include these in cutting gardens since their long stems provide an ideal flower for arrangements. They like the morning sun, but when grown in cool climates, they can tolerate full sun. This variety requires irrigation at the soil level.
The foliage dislikes water. Soil level irrigation prevents fungal disease. The Gerbera includes many cultivars such as the Festival which comes in an array of colors and the Cartwheel Chardonnay which provides a peach-colored semi-double blossom.
• Biennial or annual
• Sun/shade needed: full sun
• Water needed:
• Hardiness USDA zone: zones 9, 10, 11
• Height: 12 to 18 inches
Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta daisy)
Not to be confused with the drink company, the Shasta Daisy tends toward white or yellow petals as opposed to ginger ale-colored ones. The frilly petals come from its hybridization. The flower is a cross between three wild daisy varieties that naturally grow on Mount Shasta, California, and the oxeye daisy.
The white of petals resembles the snowcaps of Mount Shasta, hence the name. This hybrid spawned many cultivars. Alaska and Becky cultivars complement many cottages. These appear in many window boxes.
While the peak during the summer months of June and July, the daisy blooms all summer long making it a popular annual daisy. The Phyllis Smith and Banana Cream cultivars make popular choices for garden borders by providing a low-maintenance flower. Soggy winters can kill these by drowning their roots. To continue their growth, you need to divide the plant.
• Biennial or annual
• Sun/shade needed: full sun
• Water needed:
• Hardiness USDA zone: zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 89, 10
• Height: three to four feet
Some types of daisies are considered weeds and are categorized by states as invasive (and thus discouraged) because they grow so rapidly, thanks to self-sowing and their robust nature. Check with your local county extension office before planting a new daisy variety.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Growing daisies might seem simple, but it is actually complex. The daisy family comprises ten percent of flowering plants in the world. It consists of so many varieties that questions often arise.
Is there any place that daisies do not grow naturally?
The only place you do not find daisies growing naturally is Antarctica. A scientist living there though could grow them in a greenhouse or an indoor container garden under a hothouse light.
Why might you get in trouble with your city planning department for planting daisies?
The ubiquitous daisy thrives in the most hostile and hospitable environments. Daisies prove the most resilient of flowers. These simple-looking, lovely flowers are the toughest cookies in the botany world.
Some species are so invasive that once planted, they take over. If left uncontrolled, they take on the personalities of weeds and quickly spread. Your city might have a problem with you planting them, therefore, especially if you do so near the easement, the area comprising the outer edge of your yard.
The easement typically abuts the sidewalk in a city. If you plant some varieties of daisy near it, the flowers quickly spread to the easement and down the street and a block over, etc. Pretty soon, the whole neighborhood is covered in daisies. They look pretty, but each person gets to choose the flowers they plant in their own yard, so your spreading daisies everywhere can cause a pretty significant problem.
Your city planning office would likely find you and visit your property to physically remove the flowers. They would likely let you know of an appropriate daisy variety you could plant instead.
In which mythical method of fortune-telling are daisies used?
In myth, you can foretell if a person loves you using a daisy. Typically, you use the daisies with small white petals and sunny yellow centers. You pluck the first petal, saying “He loves me.” (or she, depending on your love interest’s gender), then you pluck the second petal, saying “He loves me not.”
You continue around the flower, petal by petal, with each petal standing for love or no love. When you reach the last petal and pluck it off, you have your answer. Either your love interest loves you or they do not.
Can you grow these flowers from seed?
Yes! You can grow daisies from seed. Unlike many flowers, you can grow these from African daisy seeds in the garden directly rather than cultivating seedlings in small pots. To plant them directly in a flowerbed, you need a flower bed that receives direct sunlight and has loamy soil that drains well. You can also easily grow these flowers in a container or window box.
During what seasons do daisies blossom?
Depending on the cultivar you choose, a daisy blooms in early spring, late spring, or summer. Some varieties blossom in early spring and continue to flower throughout summer. You can get a lot of curb appeal out of these cheery, hardworking, low-maintenance flowers. Daisies like their space, so plant your seeds about nine to 12 inches apart.
What do you need to watch for with daisies?
Nope. Nothing. Daisies really require that little maintenance. Plant them. Water them. They grow and look pretty. Now, you may have to corral an invasive species, but choose the right one, and you get ground cover in a blink. The healthy flower does not attract insects, nor does it typically develop diseases.
Many flowers have meanings. What is the symbolism of the daisy?
Regardless of the variety, the daisy symbolizes “new beginnings.” For this reason, they often get planted when someone purchases or builds a new home. They symbolize the start of a new homestead, so while considered a common daisy, they are far from it.
How hearty are African daisies?
As much as the African daisy flower loves warmth and sun, they abhor cold and front. Your daisies will die at the first frost.
Can you actually get your garden to look like the photos of daisies online and in magazines?
Yes, the daisy is that lovely. It often gets mistaken for dyed flowers or fake/silk flowers due to its perfection. While its white variety might be the most famous, the family of daisies produces exceptionally vibrantly colored flowers. They come in yellows, pinks, purples, and multi-color combinations.
You can find hybrids in blue and red. You can find seed packets of the osteospermum passion mix which blends white, pink, and purple blooming flowers in one mixture. This provides a vibrant, eye-catching garden plot. While they abhor cold, if you need a drought hearty, or heat-resistant flower, it is the daisy. The same cultivar also comes in a copper and apricot-colored variety with bi-colored flowers. This particular cultivar can grow well in partial shade or full sun.
What unique cultivars of this flower exist?
Not all daisies have a traditional daisy petal. For example, the osteospermum spider white has a spoon-shaped petal. It crimps halfway to the button center. The tips inwardly curve forming a spoon shape. Its petals are white with a dark purple center. The crimp often turns purple, too. You can find many osteospermum hybrids to fill your garden. Hybrid options increase the range of shades and hues, so you can fill a garden with your favorite colors.
How do you care for African daisy plants?
African daisies provide a low-maintenance flower for your garden. They bloom heartily and spread easily, so you can cover a lot of ground with only a few seeds. You do need to do a few things to ensure the health of your daisies though. You must deadhead these flowers. That means you pinch off the dead flower heads/blooms. You can do this with pruning shears or with your fingers.
You also need to pinch these flowers. You pinch off new growth to promote horizontal growth. This results in a bushier plant. Do not overdo it since pinching too often delays blooming and hurts the plant. Use restraint at all times, so you do not interrupt growth.
How often should you water African daisies?
You need to water them regularly but ensure that you do not overwater. African daisies enjoy receiving water once per week. They need about one inch of water per week. If it does not rain where you live, you need to irrigate or hand water.
This ensures that you do not pelt the flowers with water which can damage petals. While they are drought resistant, they still require a minimum amount of water. This allows them to keep their flowers open. In drought conditions, the daisy closes its blooms to conserve energy.
In what soil do these flowers do best?
Water balance is important, too. You need well-drained soil, so the water does not pool. The African daisy can easily develop root rot. When soil does not drain properly, water on the roots pools. This causes rot and the roots that hold the plant in the soil, and conduct its food, die.
Where should you plant these African daisy plants? Always plant them in the recommended sunlight for their variety. Some varieties grow in the partial shade while others cannot. You need to plant the sunny type in full sun.
Why do the daisies close their blooms at night?
These flowers typically close their blooms overnight. It lets them store energy for the following day much like people sleep at night. To enjoy your blooms during the night as well, if you have a lit garden, choose the 4D varieties. They do not close their blossoms at night, and you can enjoy the garden at any hour of the day.
What kind of soil does the daisy require?
Daisies like loamy, well-drained soil. You will need to add nutrients to the soil and organic material if your dirt is not already high-quality. For instance, if you grow your daisies in a container, they will need a soil mixture plus fertilizer. Water-soluble and organic fertilizers work most effectively.
What pH do African daisies require?
The plants do best in soil that’s neither too basic, meaning without nutritional value, nor too acidic. The ideal pH for these flowers ranges between 5 and 5.5. Measure the soil pH before planting. If it falls below that range, add fertilizer to help achieve that pH.
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