Arctotis: African daisy

Height 15-60cm (6-24in)

Planting distance 30cm (12in)

Flowers mid summer until the first frosts

Ordinary garden soil

Open sunny site

Half-hardy annual

Bold, brightly coloured daisy-like flowers and woolly silver-grey leaves make this a striking plant to grow in borders and containers. Though tempting to cut for flower arranging, the blooms last only a short while in water.

Arctotis venusta ‘Grandis’ In the garden, the flower heads tend to close in the afternoon or during dull, overcast weather, so position them where they will receive plenty of light – and can be appreciated in the morning.

Popular species and hybrids Arctotis acaulis has orange to deep red flowers, 8.5cm (3-1/2in) wide, in mid and late summer. It is a dwarf species (15-23cm/6-9in high), suitable for edging borders or growing in window-boxes. Arctotis venusta ‘Grandis’ has large white to primrose-yellow flowers with blue centres and pale lavender reverse. They appear from mid summer until the first frost. The plant grows 60cm (24in) high. Hybrids come in brilliant shades of red, yellow, apricot, orange, carmine, cream and white. They reach 30-60cm (1-2ft) high, making them popular for borders and bedding schemes. The long-stemmed flowers last longer than the species in water.

Cultivation

Sow seeds directly in the flowering site in mid to late spring and thin out to 30cm (12in) apart.

For earlier flowers, sow seeds indoors, in boxes or trays of seed compost in early spring. Keep at a temperature of 18°C (64°F). Prick out the seedlings into boxes and harden off in a cold frame, before planting out in late spring.

African daisies grow in most soils, but they need a sunny site. When the plants are 10-12cm (4-5in) high, pinch out the growing tips to encourage bushy growth. Support the tall varieties with twiggy sticks, and dead-head to extend the flowering season.

Pests and diseases

Aphids may infest young growth, and grey mould can sometimes be a problem in wet weather.

21. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Featured Articles, Plants & Trees | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Arctotis: African daisy

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