What is Osteospermum?

Debra Durkee
Debra Durkee
Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

The osteospermum is a daisy-like flower that comes in a variety of colors and was originally native to South Africa. Also known as the African daisy or the blue-eyed daisy, the plant gets the latter name because many types have a distinctive blue disc in the center from which the petals bloom. These plants can be grown as annuals in cooler climates, and can survive through two seasons in areas where the winters are mild. Daytime temperatures that are consistently hot can decrease the ability of the plant to bloom, making it a popular choice for cooler climates.

While most varieties have a blue disc in the center, some have a yellow center. These yellow types are generally more hardy, and can survive through more extreme winters. The petals come in a wide range of colors, from pure white and pink to purple and yellow. Some varieties have petals that sport more than one color or which display different patterns of shading. The petals on most are long and slender, like those of their daisy cousins, but some have been bred with wide petals.

Plants are generally around 14 inches (about 35 cm) in height and width, although some cultivars may be slightly taller or shorter. Flowering begins in the spring and continues in most areas until the hottest part of the summer, and will carry on briefly in the autumn as cooler temperatures allow. As long as the nighttime temperature reaches 55°F (about 13°C), the flowers will bloom. The foliage surrounding the flowers is a deep green. In spite of their striking appearance, the osteospermum flowers are unscented.

There is no shortage of cultivars of osteospermum, making them well suited to the color scheme of any garden. The Mara has distinct apricot and pink flowers, the Zion Sun is a bright, brilliant yellow, and the Casablanca is pure white; other cultivars run the spectrum in between. Many of these cultivars were developed in England, where they are a popular garden flower.

The osteospermum can be grown from seed or cuttings, and thrives in full sun to partial shade. Osteospermum does best in cool weather, so when planted in warmer areas, placing it in an area shaded from the hottest sun of the day will help it reach its full size and blossom fully. In addition to being planted in gardens, it can also thrive in containers, pots, or in large hanging baskets.

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