Only available in the trade since the early 1990s, osteospermum is a fairly recent addition to the gardening world. With their daisylike blossoms in a myriad of colors, osteospermums were an instant hit. These cheery blooms, planted on their own or with other cool-season plants like pansies, make a lively display in spring or fall.
When osteospermums first became available, there were only a few colors to choose from, primarily white and peach. Even with a limited color selection, their bright blue-purple centers made them a popular garden choice. After plant breeders got to work, new hues of flowers started appearing, such as pink, purple, and bicolors.
Osteospermum Care Must-Knows
Osteospermums, similar to snapdragons and pansies, are most often grown as cool-season annuals that pack a fragrant punch. Some varieties are hardy to Zones 10-11, but it's best to grow them in mild climates. In many instances, the plants will take a break from blooming during the hot summer until cool nights resume in fall.
Ideally, osteospermum prefers full sun; the more light you can give them, the better they will bloom. Osteospermum prefers evenly moist, well-drained soils. However, too-wet soil is a sure way to stress out, and even kill, osteospermums. Once they are established, they are fairly tolerant of drought. Remove any spent blooms and fertilize regularly to keep them blooming and looking their best.
One common pest you may see on osteospermums is thrips. These tiny insects like to feed on the flowers' pollen and use their sharp mouthparts to scrape the petals for water. This damages buds and contorts new growth. Luckily, there are many other beneficial insects out during the growing season that will keep these pests in check.
Because this group of plants is still fairly new to the horticultural industry, exciting varieties are popping up every year. Research is being done to create longer-lasting blooms that stay open all day and night. Also, the center disk flowers have been modified to be longer and denser, creating a 3-D effect. New colors of osteospermum are constantly being created, as well.