With delicate, prolific blooms reminiscent of open-face snapdragon flowers, diascia is a colorful option for early spring containers or garden beds. Most often diascia is used as a cool season annual, but in some areas it can be considered a perennial.
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With small, showy flowers on low-mounding to sprawling plants, diascia can be used interchangeably with alyssum, pansies, nemesia and other cool season annuals. The flowers of diascia come in a range of pinks, whites, corals, and oranges. During cool weather, the plants are covered in blossoms. Once warm summer weather begins, though, plants tend to slow down on flowering or stop blooming completely. But when cool fall weather begins, the plants will bloom once again. Diascia is sometimes referred to as twinspur because the flowers feature two spurs coming out of the back of the blossoms. Within these spurs, the plants produce an oil that is collected by a species of bee that have evolved alongside the plants.
Diascia Care Must-Knows
This South African plant grows best in fertile, well-drained soil with consistent moisture. Diascias tolerate drought once established. These plants will benefit from regular applications of fertilizer, especially during the spring.
Diascia performs best in full sun but it grow in part shade, too. In areas with a warm summer, plants will perform best in part sun, as this keeps plants cool at the expense of just a few less blossoms than plants in full sun. Diascia may not survive the intense heat of a hot summer; these plants should be treated as cool season annuals. In milder climates, diascia can be treated as perennials even though they go through periods of dormancy.
While they do not require deadheading to keep up with their blossoms, diascia will benefit from a shearing back to encourage a flush of new growth. This helps to promote better flowering in the fall, especially when done just before the hottest part of the summer, and after their initial heavy bloom cycle.
One of the breeding goals of diascia is to create new color varieties. The biggest drawback of diascia is its summer dormancy, and work is underway to extend bloom time. There are a few new varieties that tout all-season blossoms, but even these seem to fall short in hot weather. Plant scientists are also working to create more upright types and plants with a better spread.
Related: How to Plant a Border with Annuals
More Varieties of Diascia
'Flirtation Orange' Diascia
'Flirtation Orange' is an extremely floriferous variety with great heat tolerance. It practically covers itself in orange blooms and grows 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide.
'Flirtation Pink' Diascia
This variety bears masses of pink flowers on a heat-tolerant plant that gets 12 inches tall and 20 inches wide.
'Sun Chimes Coral' Diascia
Diascia 'Sun Chimes Coral' bears coral-pink blooms on spreading, 12-inch-tall plants.
Diascia Companion Plants
Gerbera daisies are so perfect they hardly look real. They bloom in nearly every color (except true blues and purples) and produce fantastically large flowers on long, thick, sturdy stems. They last for a week or more in the vase, making them a favorite of flower arrangers. This tender perennial will last the winter in only the warmest parts of the country, Zones 9-11. In the rest of the country, it is grown as an annual. It does well in average soil; it likes soil kept evenly moist but not overly wet. Fertilize lightly.
Few gardens should be without the easy charm of snapdragons. They get their name from the fact that you can gently squeeze the sides of the intricately shaped flower and see the jaws of a dragon head snap closed. The blooms come in gorgeous colors, including some with beautiful color variations on each flower. Plus, snapdragons are an outstanding cut flower. Gather a dozen or more in a small vase and you'll have one of the prettiest bouquets around. Snapdragons are especially useful because they're a cool-season annual, coming into their own in early spring when the warm-season annuals, such as marigolds and impatiens, are just being planted. They're also great for fall color. Plant snapdragon in early spring, a few weeks before your region's last frost date. Deadhead regularly for best bloom and fertilize regularly. Snapdragons often self-seed in the landscape if not deadheaded, so they come back year after year, though the colors from hybrid plants will often will be muddy looking. In mild regions, the entire plant may overwinter if covered with mulch.
Stock offers a wonderfully spicy, distinctive scent. Plant it in spring several weeks before your region's last frost date—this annual thrives in cool temperatures and stops blooming once hot weather arrives. It's especially wonderful in window boxes and planters at nose level, where its sometimes subtle effect can best be appreciated. Stock is slightly spirelike and comes in a wide range of colors. It makes a great cut flower, perfuming bouquets as well as the border. It grows best in full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil.