Dimorphotheca: star of the veldt, cape marigold

Height 30-45cm (12-18in)

Planting distance 30cm (1ft)

Flowers early summer to early autumn

Light well-drained soil

Sunny position

Half-hardy annual

In its native South Africa, star of the veldt grows rapidly and flowers quickly so it can produce its seeds before the dry season sets in. Fortunately, in cooler climates, it lasts longer, producing hundreds of elegant daisy-like flowers from early summer until early autumn. These are brilliant orange, with a dark brown eye and are carried on 30-45cm (12-18in) high stems with narrowly oblong mid-green leaves.

The genus has been reclassified as Osteospermum, and seed catalogues may list star of the veldt under either name. Their popularity has risen steadily due to their long flowering season and the brightness of their daisy flowers, sometimes with yellow, sometimes with purple centres. They look magnificent grown in groups in borders and beds, and the dwarf varieties are suitable for sunny rock gardens and for patio containers.

The most popular species, Dimorphotheca (Osteospermum) aurantiaca, is a perennial but invariably grown as a half-hardy annual, though it will often survive winters outdoors in mild districts if given cloche protection.

Popular varieties

Several varieties have been developed from Dimorphotheca aurantiaca, offering a range of colours and sizes. The following are readily available:

‘Giant Mixed’ grows 30cm (12in) high and produces plants with a profusion of flowers in all pastel shades – creamy white, orange and salmon.

‘Giant Orange’ (’Goliath’) has exceptionally large, orange-coloured daisy flowers.

‘Glistening White’ bears silvery and pure white flowers; the plants grow 15-23cm (6-9in) high.

‘Hybrids’ is a mixed seed selection of plants up to 30cm (12in) high; they bear blush-white, lemon, golden-yellow and salmon-orange flowers.

‘Salmon Queen’ grows 30cm (12in) tall, with large, 6cm (2-1/2in) wide flowers in pastel shades of salmon and apricot. Set these branching plants 45cm (18in) apart.

‘Starshine’ bears 5-7.5cm (2-3in) wide, glistening flowers in pink, rose, carmine or white, all with yellow centres. The plants grow to 45cm (18in) high and almost as much across.

‘Tetra Pole Star’, 38-45cm (15-18in) high, has shiny, 7.5cm (3in) wide silvery flowers with bright violet veins.

Cultivation

Sow the seeds under glass in early spring at a temperature of 18°C (64°F). Harden off in a cold frame before planting out when danger of frost has passed. Space them 30cm (1ft) or more apart.

In mild areas seeds can be sown in the flowering site in early summer. All need a warm sunny situation and light well-drained soil. Thin to 30cm (1ft) apart when the seedlings are large enough to handle.

Dead-head to encourage repeat flowering.

Named varieties can be increased by 7.5cm (3in) tip cuttings taken in late summer and rooted in compost in a cold frame. Over winter the cuttings in a warm greenhouse.

Pests and diseases

Grey mould can affect plants in wet weather.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Bulbous Plants, Featured Articles | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Dimorphotheca: star of the veldt, cape marigold

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