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When osteospermum daisies start flowering it is a sure sign that spring is around the corner.
They flower from spring until the very hot days arrive when flowering slows down. Plants go semi-dormant until autumn when they burst into flower again.
Now that climate change has ramped up summer temperatures, gardens are at their best during the milder seasons of spring and autumn. This makes osteospermums and other annuals or perennials that come back in autumn worthwhile plants.
Generally, they are grown as annuals but in warm, frost-free areas osteospermums can go through to a second year. After that they become woody and should be pulled out.
The osteospermums of almost every colour that fill garden centres are hybrids of the original white-and-purple flowering plants of the Western Cape.
Pink Magic. Picture: Supplied
Hybrids are compact, mounded plants, mostly 30cm high and wide. That makes them versatile as a garden groundcover, border, to edge pathways or as features in containers or hanging baskets.
Besides the colour range, the new generation osteospermums have other interesting variations. There are doubles with a crested centre, bi-colours and “magic” colours that change as the flowers age. Seed-grown varieties are also available in mixes.
Osteospermums attract butterflies, bees and other pollinators, as well as insect-loving birds.
Other garden flowers that work well with them are pansies, which like the same weather conditions, sweet alyssum as a border around the base of the osteospermum and nemesia, also indigenous, that adds fragrance to the mix. Ornamental grasses are another good match.
Osteospermum Akila is a seed-grown variety that is 50cm high and wide, that is useful for mass plantings or as a groundcover. It is the only osteospermum that is available in mixes, to produce that Namaqualand effect.
Serenity is the most popular because it is always neat, grows easily and quickly and is heat tolerant. It has the largest range of colours, with some interesting variations, like Blue-eyed Beauty, Blushing Beauty, with a pink centre, and Sunset Magic, where the flowers change colour.
Serenity Sunset. Picture: Supplied
The showiest for containers is FlowerPower, with its prolific flowers in unique colours and combinations.
Plants are compact and upright, retaining their neat shape. The best osteospermum for hanging baskets is Voltage Yellow that easily fills and overflows baskets. It is the first to flower and does best with morning sun and afternoon shade. Water daily.
They flower best when planted in full sun or plenty of morning sun.
Plants like fertile soil that drains well. Dig in compost and other organics to produce a friable mix. Add a potassium-rich fertiliser that encourages flower production.
In frost areas, protect plants with frost cloth until the end of September.
Voltage Yellow. Picture: Supplied
Plants will flower better with regular watering. Water whenever the soil feels dry.
Use a commercial potting mix in containers and water more often than plants grown in the garden.
Plants in hanging baskets will do better if a water-retaining gel is incorporated.
Remove the flowers as they fade to promote flushes of bloom.
For more information visit www.ballstraathof.co.za
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