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The African Daisy

Youthful and vibrant people are often said to be fresh as a daisy. Indeed, one look at the bright, bold-colored blossoms of the African daisy and you’ll fully appreciate how the saying came to be.

Closeup of lavender African daisies.

In this article we’ll be exploring the African Daisy. From its history and characteristics to how you can grow and care for them at home, we’ll cover (almost) all there is to know about these vibrant, beautiful flowers.

History of the African Daisy

The African daisy is a hardy, annual flower native to South Africa and its dry soil. The plant was discovered around the 19th century and brought to the West where it quickly became popular.

The white flowers of the original strain would only stay open on cloudless days when the sun was fully visible and would close once the sun disappeared.

Closeup of a white African daisy flower.

However, the lively bright colors of the flowers attracted US and UK breeding programs which led to the production of African daisy varieties that remain open for longer.

The African daisy’s biological name is Osteospermum, but it also goes by common names like South African daisy, Cape marigold, blue-eyed daisy, and sunscape daisy.

Significance of the African Daisy

Daisies are symbols of innocence, purity, and loyal love, hence, these beautiful flowers are popularly exchanged between couples around the world.

These flowers also symbolize a new start which is why you’ll often find them in bouquets for new mothers and children.

Characteristics of the African Daisy

Here are some of its primary characteristics:

Appearance and Physical Characteristics

Native species feature white petals with blue centers or dark purplish-blue centers with yellow center bands around them. Other breeds come in a variety of colors, including single, bi, or multi-colors. Some of its shades include red, coral, lavender, yellow, and orange.

African daisies with yellow, pink and purple petals.

Hybrid plants grow vertically to around 23 inches with large flowers that are up to 4 inches in diameter. Leaf forms are oval or lance-shaped with a green or grayish-green color and can have either a smooth, toothed, or lobed texture.

Blooming Season

African daisies bloom in late spring to early summer, and late summer to early fall. They’re sensitive to extreme heat and hot weather. You’ll be able to appreciate their blooms two months after sprouting.

Flower Size

Native flowers are around one to three inches in diameter while hybrids can go up to four inches.

Flower Fragrance

African daisies have a distinctive earthy fragrance.

Height

This plant can grow upright in a bush or grow with a trailing habit. They can go up to three feet tall and about one to two feet wide.

Leaves

Leaf forms of African daisies are either oval or lance-shaped. They come with an intriguing green or gray-green color and a texture that is either smooth, toothed, or lobed.

Colors

These beautiful flowers are single, bi-, or multicolored. The hybrids come in warm colors including purple, lavender, yellow, white, orange, red, coral, pink, and blue.

A single yellow African daisy.

Foliage

Its foliage resembles a grayish shade. After reaching its maximum height, it grows sideways and can cover up to two meters of the immediate area.

How To Look After the African Daisy

Soil

African daisies require rich soil with a five to 5.5pH. Soil must be mixed with compost or organic matter.

Diseases and Pests

This is not a difficult plant to grow as long as it’s in the right environment with well-drained soil and given proper maintenance.

High humidity or excess watering can cause verticillium wilt, powdery mildew, root rot, fungal diseases, or gray mold.

Common pests include whiteflies, fungus gnats, and aphids, but can be kept at bay with an insecticide.

Water

This plant needs evenly moist soil but be careful not to make the soil soggy because it can lead to rot. Once matured, the plant is quite drought-tolerant.

African daisies with purple and white striped petals.

Fertilizer

Apply a water-soluble fertilizer every two to three weeks during its growing season.

Temperature and Humidity

Mild weather suits African daisies. They bloom the most during this period. However, high humidity with no air circulation and soil drainage will cause rot. The plants can handle cooler nighttime temperatures, but must be kept away from the threat of frost.

Light

Native African daisies require a full sun to bloom fully. Shade can cause fewer flowers to bloom. The modern cultivars, however, can remain open even at night.

An African daisy with orange ad purple petals.

Size and Spacing

Seedlings will grow in about two weeks. Once they’re two to three inches tall, transplant them to pots until the frost passes. When planting the seedlings in your garden, keep them twelve to eighteen inches apart for bushier growth.

Suitable Planting Zones

Its suitable planting zones are nine, ten, and 11. Plant them in spring when there is no danger of frost.

Uses of the African Daisy

Decorations

African daisies are beautiful flowers in bouquets and floral decorations since they signify a new start.

They’re used to decorate parks and garden centers, especially during the summer heat when they are in full bloom.

Landscaping

These beautiful flowers are a favorite among gardeners given their bright, warm colors. They can be used in front beddings, be placed in hanging baskets, or grown at the entrance and pathways of gardens.

African daisies with pink and fuchsia petals.

Where to Buy African Daisy Plants or Seeds

Where to Buy Floral Arrangements

African daisies suit a wide range of floral arrangements and make beautiful centerpieces. You can contact local florists to ask about bouquets that include African daisies, or you can speak with representatives at online floral retailers.

Companion Flowers and Foliage to the African Daisy

The following flowers perfectly complement the vibrance of African daisies:

  1. Algerian iris: Goes well with yellow and orange African daisies
  2. Germander Sage: Goes well with white, pink, and yellow daisies
  3. Rudbeckia: Goes well with purple and lavender cultivars
  4. Coneflowers: These daisy-like flowers perfectly complement the African daisies’ appearance

Final Thoughts

With their brilliant center disks and bright petals, many people initially thought that African daisies were dyed! Maintaining these sunlight-loving beautiful flowers isn’t very difficult and can easily be done in most home gardens. Just make that the soil is dry enough between waterings and nourish them with nutrients from time to time.

Closeup of an African daisy with purple and white striped petals.

To learn more about daisies and other flowers for your garden and home, read our flowers blog posts!