It’s hard to believe that a plant this rugged can be so beautiful! Gazania is a well-known annual and perennial because of its extreme heat and drought tolerance. It also has exceptionally beautiful flowers that can stretch to 4 inches across and come in vibrant colors. It’s easy to see why gazania is such a great plant.
Blooms of the gazania plant come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. The color spectrum of gazania is primarily toward the warm end, showcasing bright yellows, oranges, or reds with splashes of hot pinks. In many cases, flowers come in combinations of those colors as well. Blossoms typically have a base color with brushstrokes of a deeper color through the middle. It is important to note that gazania blooms are only open during the day. At night, and even on stormy or overcast days, blossoms are held tightly closed. So if you are thinking about planting these near a popular nighttime hangout, you may want to look for another plant.
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Perennial vs. Annual
While very similar in appearance, the hardy and the annual gazania have a few differences. Most common gazanias are annual varieties and tend to boast bigger blooms, brighter colors, and slightly larger foliage with silvery white undersides. They also bloom more and for a longer period of time. Perennial varieties, on the other hand, are simpler in color—blooms, which only show in the summer, are typically a solid color with minimal markings. They also tend to have slightly smaller blooms and more foliage overall.
Gazania Care Must-Knows
Gazania is most commonly grown as an annual. However, it should be better known that there are several perennial varieties as well, all the way down to Zone 4. The most important thing to note with gazania is that it does not like to stay wet. Thes plants hail from the rocky cliffs and grassy hills of South African mountains, so they are accustomed to harsh, dry climates. If gazanias are planted in heavy soil where they stay moist for long periods of time, there's a higher risk of plants rotting. This is especially true during winter for hardy varieties; if they remain too wet over a long period of time, they'll suffer.
Right after planting, gazanias appreciate regular watering until they're established. Once they are established, plants can handle drought very well. They also don't mind intense heat, so feel free to put them near driveways and other trouble areas that become too hot and dry during the dog days of summer. Gazanias are one of the most drought-tolerant perennials out there!
Needless to say, give gazanias as much sun as you possibly can. They don't like anything less than full sun. In any amount of shade, plants become more susceptible to foliage problems like powdery mildew and will become stretched and leggy. It's also a good idea to remove any old, spent blossoms. This encourages plenty of new blooms to keep coming. You can also easily collect seed in the fall to sow again next year. Perennial varieties don't have a problem politely seeding around the garden, as well.
More Varieties of Gazania
Gazania 'Sunbather's Sunset' offers amber-orange double flowers. It grows 18 inches tall and wide. Zones 4-10
Gazania 'Daybreak Red Stripe' bears golden-yellow flowers with a bold stripe running down each petal. It grows 10 inches tall. Zones 4-10
Gazania 'Daybreak Tiger Stripes Mix' bears yellow, pink, orange, and cream flowers with a contrasting band down each petal. It grows 10 inches tall. Zones 4-10
Gazania 'Kiss White' offers lots of creamy-white flowers all summer long over dark green leaves. Zones 4-10
Gazania Companion Plants
California poppy, a native wildflower, adds an easygoing dose of color to hot, dry sites. Beautiful, satiny flowers in sunset colors wave above ferny, blue-green foliage. They like poor soils, especially sandy soils. If a soil is too rich and moist, they won't bloom well. California poppies are a cool-season annual, which means they offer great color early in the growing season but fade once the heat of summer hits. Plant them from seed in the fall or very early spring. They like moist conditions at first, but they are drought-tolerant once established. They dislike transplanting. When the plants start to brown and fade, pull them up. However, California poppies will reseed easily; for more plants next year, allow some flowers to ripen to seed on the plant and scatter when you dig up those plants. Replant in fall if you like, especially in warmer-climate areas.
Lisianthus flowers make people ooh and ahh. Some varieties of this annual look like a blue rose. It's such an elegant flower, you'd never guess it's native to American prairies. And lisianthus is one of the best cut flowers; it will last in the vase for 2 to 3 weeks. Lisianthus can be challenging to grow. They're extremely tricky to grow from seed, so start with established seedlings. Plant them in rich, well-drained soil in full sun after all danger of frost has passed. Keep moist but do not overwater. Taller varieties of lisianthus often need staking to keep their long stems from breaking, but newer dwarf varieties are more carefree.
Pentas is one of the best butterfly-attracting plants around. It blooms all summer long, even during the hottest weather, with large clusters of starry blooms that attract butterflies by the dozens as well as hummingbirds. The plant grows well in containers and in the ground—and it can even make a good houseplant if you have enough light. It does best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. Pentas is grown as an annual in most parts of the country, but it's hardy in Zones 10-11. Plant it outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.