The key to growing African daisies with huge numbers of flowers is to give them lots of sun, weekly water, and plenty of fertilizer. These plants are magnificent because they bloom in conditions that cause other flowering plants to fade or wilt. Don’t be afraid to expose your African daisies to a lot of sun and heat. They’re tolerant of hot temperatures and drought conditions. If you provide them with the sunniest spot in your flower bed, African daisies will reward you by growing into lush bushes with dozens of flowers blooming at once.
What Makes the African Daisy Special?
The African daisy is also known as the Cape daisy and osteospermum. However, the most fitting name for this plant is their common nickname—daisybushes. They earned this name for their unique growth pattern. When cultivated properly, African daisies form small bushes decorated with flowers on all sides. Very few other plants can compare to this appearance.
Like many of their relatives in the Asteraceae family, African daisies can be grown as perennials. However, most growers in the United States cultivate these showy flowers as annuals. This is due to the fact that even mild cold snaps will kill these gentle plants. Temperatures below 40℉ (4℃) are deadly to African daisies. So, plan to plant new ones each year to continue enjoying their blooms.
How Many African Daisy Varieties Exist?
There are dozens of types of osteospermum (African daisies) available at plant nurseries today. Flower colors typically include solid yellow, white, orange, purple, red, and pink. However, some of the most impressive cultivars have multicolored flowers. The Soprano Purple variety has purple and white striped petals. Meanwhile, the Serenity Bronze and Zion Copper Amethyst varieties blend purple and orange in the same bloom.
This year, I planted Voltage Yellow African daisies in my garden. This variety has the most vibrant yellow blossoms I’ve ever seen on a plant, so I’m very happy with my choice. I encourage you to try out several different varieties until you find one (or more) you fall in love with.
Where Can You Grow African Daisies?
In the United States, you can grow African daisies as winter-hardy perennials in zones 9 through 11. Don’t be discouraged if you live in a different region. In colder zones, you can still grow African Daisies as annuals. Simply plant them in spring and they will begin flowering in summer. By the time the first fall cold snap kills them, they will already be done blooming for the year.
As long as you wait until cold weather has passed in spring, you can plant African daisies in almost any region. To keep them alive year-round, consider growing them in containers. Bring the pots into your home before the first frost. Then, you can place them back outside when spring arrives.
African daisies require full sun. They should be placed where they get six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. In fact, it’s hard to give these flowers too much sun. Shade causes them to produce fewer blooms, so avoid planting them in shady beds.
Because they are extremely heat-tolerant and flower at their best when given more sun, I grow my African daisies in south- and west-facing garden beds. Then, I plant my sun-sensitive coneflowers in beds with afternoon shade.
While flowers wilt or fade under intense heat, African daisies flourish. So, grow them in the sunniest, warmest spot of your garden.
If this is your first time planting African daisies, I recommend monitoring how much sun the potential planting area gets for a day or two before you actually plant them. I planted one of my African daisies in a new spot this year, and while it is west-facing, the neighboring house blocks a lot of the late afternoon sun, so it is struggling more than the others.
Plant African daisies in spring, when there is no longer any danger of frost. If you live in an area with mild winters, begin planting in March. In regions with snowy winters, April and May are the best planting months.
When planting African daisies in the ground, place them 12 inches (30 cm) apart from each other and any neighboring plants. If you’d like to grow your osteospermum in a pot, choose one that is 12 to 14 inches (30–35 cm) in diameter. Then, plant one daisy per pot.
I like to also use a root stimulator after planting my African Daisies. This helps encourage strong root growth.
- Enhances Plant Growth: Garden Rich root stimulator from Bonide reduces transplant shock, stimulates root development, and promotes healthier plants in your garden, suitable for diverse types of flora.
- Essential Nutrients: The 4-10-3 fertilizer contains key nutrients – 4% nitrogen, 10% phosphate, and 3% potash - crucial for vigorous plant growth.
- Root-Inducing Hormone: Bonide Root & Grow features Indole-3-butyric acid (IBA), a plant hormone that stimulates root formation, ready to mix with water for easy application.
Water your African daisies once per week. If you’re watering by hand, give your plants 10 cups of water at each watering session (2.4 liters). If you are using a soaker hose, run the hose for 30 minutes every time you water.
African daisies are fairly drought tolerant, but extreme heat can take a toll on your flowers. During the peak of summer, I check my African daisies daily. If the flower stems and leaves are drooping, I increase the watering frequency to twice per week. Yellow leaves and brown leaf tips are another sign your osteospermum is struggling. Water dry plants immediately and continue twice-weekly watering until they look healthy again.
In order to get the most blooms from your African daisies, fertilize them every two to three weeks throughout the growing season. This liquid organic fertilizer is perfect for the job. Just mix two ounces of liquid concentrate in 10 cups of water and apply it once every two weeks. It works for container-grown or in-ground African daisies.
Although you shouldn’t fertilize African daisies once they start to go dormant in late fall, don’t stop fertilizer applications too soon. Sometimes, flowering will slow down or stop in extremely hot summers. Then, in the fall, your African daisies will start to bloom again. So, continue fertilizer applications through September to encourage this fall bloom.
- Optimal Plant Nutrition: AgroThrive's Fruit and Flower Organic Fertilizer, designed for higher potassium-demanding plants, encourages faster growth, higher yields, and more flavorful produce.
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- Soil Microflora Activation: Fertilizer formulation aids in activating indigenous soil microflora, promoting balanced nutrient release - 70% fast-release and 30% slow-release.
Pruning and Deadheading
Deadheading is the most important part of African daisy maintenance. Although it sounds intimidating, deadheading is just the process of removing old flowers so your daisybush can grow new ones. To do this, simply use a pair of pruning shears to cut the flower stem two inches (5 cm) below the dead flower.
You can also use your fingers to pinch and snap the stems off. Follow the stem down to where you see new flowers starting to bud, and pinch the dead flower and stem off.
If you live in a warm region where your African daisies can survive the winter, prune them down to ground level in spring. Although some gardeners prefer to cut back their daisies in the fall, I leave mine long throughout winter. The remaining seed heads and stems attract winter songbirds.
Propagating African Daisies
To grow new African daisies from your existing plants, begin by cutting off a two-inch portion (5 cm) of a non-flowering stem. Plant the stem in a seed tray filled with potting soil and use the same root stimulator mentioned above. Water these stems every few days, to keep the soil lightly moist. Soon, the stems will begin to put down roots and grow new leaves.
Once your propagated stems have begun to outgrow the seed tray, you can either transplant them to a larger pot or plant them in the ground outdoors. If you make cuttings in the fall, you can keep them alive in pots all winter. Then, you can plant in the spring.
Common African Daisy Pests and Diseases
African daisies are most commonly attacked by small insects such as aphids, thrips, and mealybugs. Check the underside of leaves for clusters of small insects. If you spot them, spray your plant with this organic neem oil once per day. It will kill all common pest insects in 24 to 48 hours.
Most African daisy varieties are hardy enough to resist disease. However, fungal infections are the most common problem I’ve faced. If you see signs of white, black, or rust-colored mold on the leaves or stems, fungus is attacking your plants. Luckily, neem oil is an organic fungicide, as well as an insecticide. So, spray your plant with neem oil once daily until the fungus disappears.
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- Organic Gardening Approved: Suitable for organic produce and can be used up until the day of harvest, it provides a safe, yet effective solution for maintaining your garden's health.
How Do You Take Care of African Daisies?
To care for your African daisies, follow these tips:
- Plant them in south- and west-facing gardens that receive full sun.
- Make sure to wait until there is no danger of frost before planting in spring.
- Water once per week. Increase to two times per week if the plants begin to wilt.
- Apply liquid fertilizer to the root zone every 2–3 weeks.
- Deadhead flowers throughout the summer and fall to encourage more blooms.
- Kill pest insects and treat fungal disease with neem oil spray.
These simple rules allow you to cultivate any variety of African daisy that catches your eye. Although the petal color and shape can vary between different varieties, just remember that any plant with “osteospermum” in the name is an African daisy.