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African daisies or Cape daisies produce small, yet fiercely colorful blossoms that almost look unnatural due to their petals that look like they’ve been dyed. This South African native shrub is available in more than 70 different varieties with differently shaped petals and foliage. They’re known as super quick bloomers as they only take about 2-3 months at the most to generate flowers after sprouting.
If you’re looking for a brief, easy-to-understand guide on how to grow and care for African daisies, you’ve come to the right place! This detailed quick guide will tell you everything you need to know so that you can start planting your own African daisies in your garden.
Botanically named as “Osteospermum”, African daisies are tender perennials in USDA zones 7-10. In other zones, they can only be grown as annuals as they don’t have the ability to tolerate winter frost. Their flowers come in a wide range of individual and bi-colors and they make absolutely wonderful container plants and ground covers. You’ll find that these are very easy plants to grow since they require very little maintenance and care.
Growing African Daisies
Though the growing conditions of African daisies can differ slightly based on the different varieties, there are a few general things you should know.
When to Plant African Daisies?
Plant your African daisies outdoors in the spring, after the danger of the last frost is over. However, when propagating from seeds, you can first sow them indoors 8-10 weeks prior to the spring to get the seedlings ready for outdoor planting later.
Best Soil for African Daisies
African daisies love humus-rich soil with a lot of organic matter and thrive in well-draining soil types. Choose a type of soil that’s slightly acidic with a pH level between 5.0-5.5. You can always improve the condition of the soil by simply adding some organic compost before planting.
Sun or Shade?
These plants enjoy full sunlight, so pick a spot that gets direct sunlight throughout the day. It’s not that they can’t survive in partial shade, but could affect their growth and flowering to a certain extent. For plants grown indoors, you can use a good growing light as an alternative to natural sunlight.
Despite their love for sunlight and the fact that they come from an extremely warm country, African daisies thrive in mild weather conditions that are neither hot nor cold. Planting your African daisies somewhere with a daytime temperature of about 8-12 Celsius (46-53 Fahrenheit) and a cooler nighttime temperature of 4 Celsius (40 Fahrenheit) is the best way to fulfill their heat preferences.
Most species of African daisies are grown from cuttings, but there are some varieties that can be grown from seeds as well. If you don’t want to bother with the whole propagating process, buying some young African daisy plants from a nursery is also an option.
Propagating from Cuttings
If you’re planning to propagate your plants from cuttings, here’s what to know on how to get cuttings the right way:
- Choose a well-established African daisy plant with some healthy side shoots/stems.
- Cut the chosen shoots just below the leaf node using a sharp, sterile tool like a pair of scissors or a knife. The minimum length of the cuttings should be 2-3 inches long and they should also have at least two pairs of leaf axils. An axil is the angle just between the stem from which the leaf grows, and the upper side of the leaf.
- Remove any remaining leaves from the cutting point and remove any flower buds as well before planting.
- Soak the cuttings in a rooting hormone powder thoroughly.
- Dig some holes with a pointed tool in the soil or potting mix. Make sure they’re slightly bigger in size than the stem cuttings.
- Plant the cuttings in the holes and press down the soil around firmly.
- Water thoroughly to keep the soil moist and cool.
- Within best growing conditions, the cuttings will start rooting within 3-4 weeks.
- When new growth is visible, your cuttings are ready to be transplanted or moved into new homes.
Propagating from Seeds
Propagating African daisies from seeds is much easier and less complicated than using cuttings. Here’s what to do:
- Prepare your soil or potting mix first and sow the seeds on soil surface directly.
- Cover them very lightly with a thin layer of soil as they need full sun exposure to germinate.
- Water often to keep the soil moist all the time until the germination begins.
- The seeds will start germinating from about 10-15 days.
- After sprouting, it will take at least 2 weeks for the young plants to get stable before moving or transplanting them.
African Daisy Care and Maintenance
African daisies are strong flowering plants that don’t need a lot of effort or time to maintain. However, with proper care and attention, you can get them to produce flowers in mass amounts and super quickly.
How Often Should I water African Daisies?
African daisies are drought-tolerant plants, but they do need frequent watering in the summer as well as in the blooming season. However, the amount of water has to be reduced to a certain extent in the winter and rainy seasons.
Water your African daisies whenever the 1-2 top inches of the soil surface is dry to the touch. Give them at least 1-2 inches of water per week in average weather conditions. You can use a soaker hose to water the base of the plants directly to avoid wetting the foliage.
What’s the Best Fertilizer for African Daisies?
Feed your African daisies with a slow-release, complete fertilizer in late winter to early spring which is just before the beginning of the new growing season. This will help the shrubs to grow into healthy plants that bloom vigorously in the flowering season.
In addition, you can use a good water-soluble fertilizer or organic compost to feed them to provide extra nutrition. Remember not to use a fertilizer with a high nitrogen level as it can cause an over-growth of the plant foliage instead of flowers.
What’s the Best Mulch for African Daisies?
Adding some organic mulch can do wonders to your African daisy shrubs. Not only does it help to retain moisture and increase soil nutrition, but it also helps keep the weeds away. Wood chips, grass clippings, and shredded leaves are some of the best mulch types for African daisies. You can always try making your own mulch at home and save a little extra cash!
Spread the chosen mulch around the plant roots as a layer of 2 inches thick. However, when mulching, always make sure to keep at least 6 inches from the plant base mulch-free to prevent waterlogging and gathering too much moisture around the plant roots.
Should I Prune and Deadhead My Plants?
Prune your African daisies from time to time to stimulate the growth rate and shape up the shrubs for landscaping purposes. Whenever you feel like the plants are overgrown and out of shape, trim the stem tips from just above the first node. Use a clean, sharp tool for this, and be careful not to prune any tips with flower buds.
While pruning helps with plant growth, deadheading can encourage their blooming. Deadheading is the method of removing old flowers to allow the plants to produce new ones. This is a very simple process as all you have to do is remove the dried-up, wilted blossoms by cutting them just above a leaf joint.
What are Some Common Pests and Diseases?
African daisies are resilient plants that don’t easily attract a lot of pests and diseases. However, common garden pests like aphids, slugs, earwigs, and whiteflies can pose a threat to them. You can simply control these pests with the help of a good pesticide or insecticide.
These plants can also get exposed to some common fungal infections. Most of the time, lack of proper care and attention are what causes this, so remember to keep your plants well-watered and fed, but don’t overdo it.
Make sure they have enough space to maintain good air circulation and as well as a sharp drainage system. To treat such diseases, first, separate the sick plants from the good ones and then spray them with an approved fungicide to prevent a relapse.
If you’re looking for a hassle-free flowering shrub that can add dynamic and vivid colors to your garden, then African daisies are a great way to go. The best part about growing these plants is that you don’t need to be a gardening expert to do a great job. All it takes is a little extra care and maintenance, and you’re well on your way to having your very own blossoming African daisy garden!