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Flowers, Ornamental Gardens

African Daisy Plants: Growing Osteospermums


12 min read

Have you ever wondered what those daisy-like flowers are with the creamy yellow petals and sunburst purple center? They exude cheerfulness every time you see them in a garden. Well, you are in for a treat today because we are talking about the beautiful African daisy. 

These plants are from the daisy family, and the flowers sport bright colors. The orange and pink flowers with multi-colored centers are a favorite. The good news is in this article, you will learn about the plant called African daisy, and gain some useful details about African daisy care.   

The scientific name for the African daisy is Osteospermum spp. One of the most popular Proven Winners of the Osteospermum hybrid is Bright Lights, which features yellow, pink, or purple flowers close together on the plant. To have them year-round depends on your climate because these plants do not tolerate frost. What’s great is they prefer full sun, are heat and drought-tolerant, and aren’t prone to diseases and pest infestations compared to other annuals. 

Get ready to take notes while you read this growing guide – you’ll find plenty of plant information about how to care for African daisies. And once you realize how easy they are to propagate, you’ll be ready to grow them in your own garden. 

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Quick Care Guide

African daisy
African daisy (Osteospermum spp.) plants provide incredible garden color. Source: JKleeman
Common NameAfrican daisy, South African daisy, Cape daisy, blue-eyed daisy
Scientific NameOsteospermum spp.
FamilyAsteraceae family
Height & Spread1-3 ft tall, 1-2 ft wide
LightFull sun
SoilWell-drained, acidic
Water1-2 inches per week, drought tolerant
Pests & DiseasesAphids, whiteflies, fungal diseases

All About African Daisies

A good look at the center of an African daisy
The center of an African daisy makes it stand out. Source: louisa_catlover

African Daisies go by other names such as Cape daisy, blue-eyed daisy, and South African daisy. The botanical name, also called the scientific name, is Osteospermum spp. As the name suggests, they are native to South Africa, thus are drought and heat tolerant once established. They grow best in USDA zones 10-11 as tender perennials. These plants grow the same as other annuals in zones that receive frost – the variety also determines if the plant is an annual or perennial. The African daisy was discovered in the 19th century and quickly became popular in other areas of the world.

The native flower species have white petals with a blue center surrounding the yellow disc. However, you will find hybrids that feature a variety of flower hues, from pink to yellow or even white. Leaves are oval or lance-shaped and gray-green with smooth edges near the top and serrated edges towards the bottom of the plant. The flowers grow on a straight stem and sit above the foliage. 

There are many stems and flowers blooming at one time on this erect plant. The spoon-shaped flowers have a buttery yellow center surrounded by many thin petals to form a rosette, some varieties even showcase semi-double flowers. Blooms can range in size from 2 to 4 inches across, depending on the cultivar. African daisies grow fast and begin blooming in early summer and continue to bloom until late summer into early fall.  

African Daisy Care

Osteospermum spp.
Osteospermum species flowers have a wide range of possible colors. Source: brx0

Compared to other plants, African daisies are one of the easiest flowering plants to grow in the garden. Once established, you’ll enjoy their beautiful blooms all summer long. This next section discusses planting instructions and care for African daisies.  

Sun and Temperature

Plant your African daisies in full sun after the last frost for the best results. They will tolerate light shade but may not bloom as often. Extreme heat is not ideal and will stress them out – you can grow other plants next to them to provide shade during the hottest part of the day. Their ideal USDA growing zone is 10-11, but you can grow them in other zones as annual plants because they are sensitive to frost. 

The ideal temperature range is from 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. They will not survive below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in colder climates, you can take cuttings from your plant at the end of the growing season to propagate new plants for the next growing season.     

Water and Humidity

The best time of day to water your African daisy plants is first thing in the morning. Water regularly until the plant is established, but only to keep the soil evenly moist. Once established, water 1-2 inches per week. These plants are drought tolerant, so they dislike being over-watered. Water at the base of the plant and try not to splash soil onto the stem or leaves to prevent fungal spores from being introduced. Most African daisies can tolerate some humidity as long as they have good air circulation. 

Soil

African daisies thrive in well-drained garden soil that is slightly acidic with a pH of 5-5.5. Organic matter such as compost is great to add to the soil when you plant to increase drainage. Soggy soil encourages fungal diseases to attack. Many African daisy varieties will tolerate dry or poor soil, but you’ll get bushier growth with nutrient-rich soil.  

Fertilizing African Daisies

Pale yellow osteospermum
Yellow, pink, purple, orange or white are common shades for Osteospermums. Source: JKleeman

Add organic matter when you plant African daisies in your garden, and you won’t need to fertilize until mid-summer. Use a balanced slow-release fertilizer and take care not to apply too much nitrogen, as this will encourage bushier growth that will produce fewer flowers. Fertilize regularly through the growing season to enjoy larger flowers. Fertilize for the last time in early fall and begin again in late spring if you live in a mild climate that supports them year-round. 

Pruning

For the best African daisy care and to encourage an abundance of beautiful flowers, deadhead the spent flower buds. This will encourage reblooming into late summer. Cut back your plant in early fall to allow it to go dormant for the mild winter. Also, if your plants become leggy, give them a trim to shape the plant and encourage growth.   

African Daisy Propagation

There are two methods for propagating African daisy plants. The first method is by seeds – don’t save seeds from previous plants since most are hybrids, and they won’t grow true. Sow outdoors once the danger of frost has passed. Place seeds 10 inches apart and lightly cover them with soil. Water regularly to keep the soil moist. You can start them indoors, but it stresses them being transplanted when young. However, if you sow them in our Epic 4-cells, you’ll have fewer problems with transplant shock. 

You can also begin new plants by taking cuttings from existing plants. Prepare small containers with seed starting mixture and slightly moisten. Cut healthy stems that have at least 3 to 4 leaves. Pinch off the flower bud if present and remove lower leaves to expose the nodes. Dip the end (make sure to get the exposed nodes) in rooting hormone and gently push the stem into the prepared container. Keep the cuttings warm at 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit. Place them in a bright location out of direct sunlight and keep the soil moist but not soggy until they root in 3 to 4 weeks. 

Troubleshooting African Daisy Plants

African daisies
Many African daisies have a variegated coloring, like these. Source: Indigo Skies

Luckily, you won’t encounter too many growing problems or have to deal with many pests and diseases when growing African daisies. However, this next section will help troubleshoot any problems you may experience. 

African Daisy Growing Problems

If your African daisy isn’t providing you with a plethora of stunning blooms, then you may need to deadhead your plant (which means remove the spent blooms), provide a dose of fertilizer, or give them a little extra water and provide shade since they may be stressed from the hot weather. Generally, when the weather cools, the plant will flower more.

Even though they are heat-tolerant plants, you may notice your plant wilting. The African daisy prefers to be planted in soil with good drainage (it does not do well in clay soils) and receive plenty of sun. Providing well-drained soil and sun will help prevent it from wilting and ensure a healthy plant. 

Pests

There are two common pests of the African daisy. The first one is aphids. These tiny insects are usually brown or green, and you will find them hiding under the leaves. These pests suck the sap from your plant, causing the leaves to turn yellow and curl. If there are not many aphids on your plant, you can blast them away with water. Attracting beneficial insects to your garden such as the parasitic wasp and lady beetles, will help keep their population down. Neem oil, diatomaceous earth, and pyrethrins are good choices for controlling a large aphid population. 

The second most common pest is whiteflies. These insects are tiny, and they look like white specks on the plant. They like to hang out on the underside of the leaves and suck the sap from the plant – this will cause the leaves to yellow and fall off, making your plant unsightly. Lacewings and lady beetles are natural predators, so attracting these beneficial insects to your garden is a good idea. Neem oil and pyrethrins are effective when there is a large amount attacking your plant. 

Diseases of African Daisies

Luckily, African daisies aren’t susceptible to many diseases. The primary concern to be aware of is fungal diseases such as verticillium wilt that are usually caused by excess moisture. If you live in a humid environment, take extra care to prevent fungus from growing on your plant. Don’t water your flower from the top; water from the base to prevent water droplets from splashing onto the plant. 

Fungal spores hang out in the dirt and are inadvertently introduced to the plant by splashing water. Also, make sure there is plenty of airflow around the pink flowers and only water when there is plenty of time for the water to dry in the day’s warmth. Mulching at the plant’s base can prevent soil splashback onto leaves. Fungicides can be applied if you don’t catch the fungal disease in the early stages. 

Another possible fungal disease is root rot. This is a fungal disease that often results in part due to over-watering. It can be prevented by watering as recommended to prevent the wet soils that the fungal pathogen prefers. Once established, the African daisy only needs 1-2 inches of water per week at the most. Frequent fertilizing and soil that doesn’t drain well can also cause root rot. Symptoms are stunted growth and yellowing of the leaves. If you catch root rot early, you can save your plant. Remove it from its current location, plant it in a well-draining potting mix and adjust your watering schedule. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Blue eyed daisy center
One can easily see why these are called blue-eyed daisies occasionally. Source: brx0

Q: Do African daisy come back every year?

A: It will depend upon the variety and your climate. African daisies can be perennial plants in mild climates, but in areas that receive frost, they are grown as annuals. 

Q: Will African daisy spread?

A: Pure African daisy plants spread by runners and can become a nuisance. Planting hybrids will help keep these from becoming invasive. 

Q: How big do African daisies get?

A: African daisies can grow to 1-3 feet in height and 1-2 feet wide – especially when planted in garden beds with well-drained soil.  

Q: What are African daisies called?

A: African daisies are commonly known as African daisy, South African daisy, Cape daisy, and blue-eyed daisy. 

Q: Do you cut back African daisies?

A: If you live in USDA hardiness zones 10-11, cut back your African daisy in the late fall and it will be ready to grow and bloom again in the spring. Otherwise, trim the stems if they become leggy.

Q: Can you winter over African daisies?

A: If you live in a mild climate, you can over-winter your African daisies. However, they will die if exposed to frost. 

Q: Can African daisy survive frost?

A: No, African daisies are not tolerant to cold weather and frost. They are perennials only in mild climates. Plant them outside in the garden after the last frost. 

Q: Do African daisies bloom all summer?

A: African daisies can bloom all summer if you live in a climate that doesn’t reach high temperatures. The pink flowers respond best to cooler temperatures of the spring and fall in climates that are dry and hot. Providing optimal care for African daisies results in long-lasting bloom times. A lovely option for a continuous pink flower is a Proven Winners Osteospermum hybrid called Bright Lights.   

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