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A fairly infrequently used annual, arctotis (or African daisy) is a tough plant native to South Africa. These plants have beautiful silver/grey foliage that lays the groundwork for a stunning floral display. The blooms of this plant come in a wide array of colors that can put on quite the show for an extended period of time in mild climates.
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Daisy-like blooms burst from the plant every morning. The blooms all consist of a row of showy outer petals in bright colors and a compact "eye" in the center. The eye of the bloom comes in many different colors, typically brown, gold, pink, or green. While the majority of the flowers come in solid colors, some fade into another color toward the center of the bloom for an almost tie-dye effect. These happy flowers can cover a plant in the right season and hold on for quite a long time. With so many colors to choose from, there's no reason not to try out an African daisy.
As if the flower color palette wasn't enough, these South African natives have silver/gray foliage that lends another visual appeal to the overall plant. When paired with the bright jewel-toned blooms, the silver foliage really sets off the vibrant blossoms for a great visual effect in a mass planting or as a stand-alone specimen.
African Daisy Care Must-Knows
Because these plants hail from extremely sandy and rocky areas like the dunes of South Africa, African daisies need well-drained soils in order to perform their best. This, however, doesn't mean that they like to stay too hot and dry. In fact, their climate is typically very mild. When grown in areas with hot summers, African daisies take a break from blooming and focus on surviving the stressful heat of the summer. Once things start to cool back down, the show picks up where it left off and will bloom until frost. If you are planning on using African daisies in your garden, treat them as a cool season bloom as you would pansies and stocks in warmer areas.
Another important thing to consider when deciding where to plant African daisy is that its blooms close up at night. Blooms sometimes don't even fully open when it's overcast or bad weather. So if you plan on planting in an area that is most used in the evening hours, it might be a good idea to find a substitute that can better be enjoyed in the evening.
To keep the show going all season, it's best to remove any old, spent blossoms from the plants. This will help encourage new growth and keep plants producing flowers longer. If you are planning on using African daisies each year, save some of the seeds from the spent blossoms and start them a couple weeks before the last frost. They'll be ready to sow outdoors once its safe from frost.
More Varieties of African Daisy
'Pink Sugar' African Daisy
Arctotis 'Pink Sugar' features sunset hues of pink and orange that give this cultivar brilliant style. Its silvery foliage is a bonus. Count on it to produce hundreds of blooms over the course of the season. It grows 14 inches tall and 10 inches wide.
'The Ravers Hearts and Tarts' African Daisy
Arctotis 'The Ravers Hearts and Tarts' has gray-green foliage and orange-and-pink flowers. It grows 12 inches tall and 16 inches wide.