Cape daisies (Osteospermum) are beautiful flowering plants native to the Arabian peninsula, southern and eastern Africa. In most climates, cape daisies are grown as annuals, in climates without freezing temperatures, these flowers can be grown as perennials. Cape daisies are also called African daisies or South African daisies.
The blooms of cape daisies resemble sunflowers, which is not a surprise because they are related to sunflowers. There are many different cultivars of Cape daisies available, in a myriad of colors.
Types of Cape Daisies
There are many varieties of Osteospermum, some have even gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. We have brought out a few varieties below:
- African Queen
- White Spoon
- White Pim
- Lady Leitrim
- Springstar Gemma
- Passion Mix
- Blackthorn Seedling
Most Cape Daisies cannot tolerate freezing temperatures, there are cultivars available that are more winter hardy, but if you live in a climate with freezing winters, you won’t be able to grow them as perennials.
Cape Daisies are quite easy to grow, they are tolerant of droughts. They also tolerate most types of soil, even with high salt content. Cape Daisies can be grown in containers easily.
Cape daisies are winter-hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11. Mild temperatures (60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit) are ideal for these flowering plants, when temperatures get too hot or cold, they stop blooming.
Cape daisies are not fussy about humidity. There is a caveat – high humidity levels and poor air circulation may bring about fungal diseases.
Cape daisies thrive in full sunlight. In hotter climates, you can provide them some shade during mid-summer to keep them blooming.
Mature African daisies can tolerate short periods of drought. Although, they prefer to be watered regularly. Soil should be kept evenly moist, but not waterlogged. Depending on the weather, African daisies demand about 1 inch of water once a week.
Soil & Fertilizer
Cape daisies can tolerate soils that are deficient in nutrients and have high salt content. While that may be the case, providing them with slightly acidic, nutrient-rich, well-draining soil is best.
Cape daisies are heavy feeders, you can amend the soil with compost every month as well as add all-purpose, liquid fertilizer.
It is possible to overwinter Cape daisies indoors if you have a room with a lot of direct sunlight even during winter or grow lights. This can be a quite challenging task. An easier way is to take cuttings during fall and have them root during winter, which will be ready to plant after frost.
Cape daisies can be propagated via seeds and cuttings. Although, most cultivars of cape daisies are a combination of two or more cultivars. Propagating via seed does not guarantee that you will see the same cultivar as the result.
Propagating via Seeds
Best time to propagate via seeds is about 8 weeks before the last frost:
- Fill a container with potting soil
- Place the seeds on top of the soil, about 3 inches apart
- Gently press on the seed, to immerse them under the soil slightly
- Cover them with a very thin layer of potting soil
- Water the soil and keep it moist until seedlings appear
- Before transplanting the young plants outside, bring them outside in a container for 1-2 hours into intense sun for at least a week.
Propagating via Cuttings
You should take cuttings from a healthy plant, one or two weeks before the first frost.
- Fill a container with potting soil
- Pour a little bit of water on the soil
- Use sharp sterile tools to take cuttings of a healthy plant
- Cutting should be at least 3 inches long with two nodes
- Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting
- Dip the lower end in rooting hormone
- Place the cutting in the potting soil with the bottom half under the soil
- Cover the container with a plastic bag to retain moisture
- Place it in a warm spot with bright indirect light
- Roots should form in a month’s time.
Aphids and whiteflies are the two main pests of these stunning flowers. Use insecticidal soaps to contain smaller infestations, if that doesn’t help use chemical pesticides. There are organic ways to deter pests as well, by planting them near plants that naturally deter pests like aphids and whiteflies such as fennel or dill.
African daisies are susceptible to root rot and fungal diseases. Root rot is usually caused by overwatering, which can be prevented. Fungal diseases appear only in high-humidity environments. To prevent localized high humidity, do not plant the flowers too closely.
Cape daisies are stunning flowers and a wonderful gift as a cut flower. They can be grown as perennials and annuals, depending on the climate. Provide them with a lot of sunlight, rich soil, and an adequate amount of water and you’ll be rewarded with a lot of beautiful blooms.