Orange Symphony (Osteospermum hybrid) Photo by: Proven Winners

At first glance, African daisies (Osteospermum) look like typical daisies, with symmetrical petals that radiate from a central eye. But upon a closer look, this South African native is anything but ordinary. The flowers come in many colors from white to deep purple, with single or multi-colored centers and petals that can be double, fringed, or spoon-shaped.

A member of the daisy family (Asteraceae), osteospermum is a half-hardy perennial or subshrub most commonly grown as an annual. A relative newcomer to the horticultural industry, African daisies first become available to home gardeners in the 1990s.

Although commonly called African daisy, it’s important to remember the botanical name of Osteospermum, as other garden plants such as Dimorphotheca and Arcotis go by the same common name. Other names include South African daisy, Cape daisy, Cape marigold, blue-eyed daisy, or sunscape daisy.

On this page: The Basics | Planting | Care | Choosing the Right African Daisy | Pictures | Landscaping Tips

THE BASICS

Zones:

9-11. This half-hardy subshrub is grown as an annual in most regions, or perennial in frost-free zones.

Height/Spread:

Upright bushy or trailing habit, 1 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide

Exposure:

Full sun to light shade; bloom is most prolific in full sun.

Bloom time:

Late spring to frost. They are sensitive to extreme heat and flower sparsely in hot weather. Peak bloom time is from late spring to early summer and again from late summer into fall when temperatures begin to moderate.

Color and characteristics:

Daisy-like flowers 2 inches across, come in single, bi- or multicolors in shades of white, yellow, orange, red, coral, pink, blue, lavender, and purple. Oval or lance-shaped leaves are green or gray-green with smooth or toothed margins. Flowers close at night or on dark overcast days, though recent breeding breakthroughs include cultivars where the flowers stay open.

PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS

Fall display with Lemon Symphony African daisy (Osteospermum hybrid) Photo by: Proven Winners

When to plant:

Plant outside in mid-late spring after all danger of frost is past.

Where to plant:

Grow in a sunny to lightly shaded site in a container or landscape. Plants will flower best in full sun.

How to plant:

For beds and borders, loosen soil in the planting area 6 to12 inches deep. Work in compost or other organic matter. Remove plant from container and gently tease out roots or slice the root ball in several places if potbound. Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball. Place the plant in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil surface. Fill in the hole, tamp down soil around the base and water well. Space 12 inches apart and allow for adequate air circulation.

For containers:

Plant as above, using a rich, well-draining potting mix. Spacing can be slightly closer when combined with other plants.

CARE

Maintenance:

Deadhead spent flowers to encourage reblooming, although this is not required for Symphony or Bright Lights series plants. Plants can be cut back by up to half during hot summer weather for a fuller rebloom in late summer and fall. Where they are perennial, plants can be lightly sheared after the last flush of blooms.

Soil:

For beds and borders, amend soil with compost or other organic matter and make sure there is good drainage. Optimal soil pH is 5-5.5.

Amendments & fertilizer:

Apply an all-purpose water-soluble fertilizer every 2 to 3 weeks according to package instructions. Since containers are watered more often, nutrients will leach out faster, requiring more frequent fertilizing.

Watering:

Keep soil evenly moist but not soggy. Plants can become somewhat drought-tolerant once established. Overwatering can lead to fungal disease or rot.

Diseases and pests:

When planted in optimal conditions and properly maintained, there are few, if any, problems. Pests include thrips, whitefly, fungus gnats, or aphids. Diseases include verticillium wilt, powdery mildew, botrytis, phytophthora, gray mold, root or stem rot, all of which can be caused by excess watering, high humidity, or poor air circulation.

Deer resistance:

Deer will leave them alone for the most part, though extreme conditions can result in deer grazing on plants that they wouldn’t otherwise.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT AFRICAN DAISY

For pathways, borders, and landscape:

Choose larger quick-growing varieties for maximum impact. Plant in a row to edge a pathway, place at the front of a border for a dramatic color accent, or mass in a bed.

For slopes and hillsides:

Select larger spreading varieties that will fill in quickly and mass along a bank or slope.

For containers:

Use any size variety as a stand-alone accent, or combine with other annuals or small perennials with similar growing needs.

OSTEOSPERMUM VARIETIES

Varieties are still being developed for new colors, patterns and shapes, as well as attributes such as longer-lasting blooms and flowers that stay open at night. In the right conditions, osteospermum—which can be grown in containers or in the landscape—will reward you with months of color.

Swipe to view slides

Photo by: Proven Winners

‘Orange Symphony’Buy now from Proven Winners
Osteospermum hybrid

Zones:

9-11

Height/Spread:

Upright trailing habit, 8 to 14 inches tall, 12 to 18 inches wide, trails to 24 inches long.

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Orange flowers, green foliage

Part of the Symphony Series, the shorter stature and trailing habit is good for hanging baskets, window boxes, and containers. Combine with complementary plants such as Royal Velvet® petunia or Laguna® Dark Blue lobelia for stunning color contrast.

Photo by: Proven Winners

‘Soprano® White’Buy now from Proven Winners
Osteospermum hybrid

Zones:

9-11

Height/Spread:

Compact mounding habit, 8 to 14 inches tall and 10 to 14 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Flowers have white petals with a blue and yellow center that is rimmed with purple; green foliage.

The clean white flowers go with most styles and color schemes, and are a standout when planted by themselves or in combination with other plants. The diminutive stature makes this a good choice for small spaces and containers.

Photo by: Proven Winners

Bright Lights™ YellowBuy now from Proven Winners
Osteospermum hybrid

Zones:

9-11

Height/Spread:

Compact bushy habit, 8 to 12 inches tall and wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Yellow flowers, green foliage

The dense compact habit makes this a good choice for border edging, massed landscape plantings and containers in combination with other plants. More heat-tolerant than other varieties, this versatile selection goes well with other warm colors of red and orange or complementary hues of blue and purple.

Photo by: Proven Winners

Bright Lights™ PurpleBuy now from Proven Winners
Osteospermum hybrid

Zones:

9-11

Height/Spread:

Compact bushy habit, 8 to 12 inches tall and wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Deep rose-purple flowers, green foliage

The shorter stature and dense growth habit makes this a good choice as edging, massed in a landscape, or in containers in combination with other plants. More heat-tolerant than other varieties, this selection pairs well with Bright Lights™ Yellow osteospermum or other plants with complementary hues of orange or yellow.

Photo by: Proven Winners

Bright Lights™ Double MoonglowBuy now from Proven Winners
Osteospermum hybrid

Zones:

9-11

Height/Spread:

Compact bushy habit, 8 to 12 inches tall and wide

Exposure:

Partial to full sun

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Creamy yellow outer petals with buttery yellow center, green foliage

Great for use in landscapes and containers and does not require deadheading. Heat tolerant plants with gorgeous, semi-double flowers.

Photo by: Linda Hagen

'Blue-Eyed Beauty'
Osteospermum ecklonis

Zones:

10-11

Height/Spread:

Mounding spreading habit, 12 to 14 inches tall and 14 to 20 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Flower petals are yellow with a purple rim around the center, the eye is blue and yellow; green foliage.

This newer cultivar, part of the Serenity™ series, is particularly stunning, with buttery yellow petals and a multi-colored center. Use in mass plantings or containers. Accentuate the colors of this unique beauty by combining it with blue annual lobelia and trailing dark purple verbena. More heat tolerant than some other varieties.

Photo by: Mirko Rosenau / Shutterstock

Astra™ Purple Spoon
Osteospermum ecklonis

Zones:

10-11

Height/Spread:

Mounding spreading habit, 12 to 18 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Flowers are pinkish purple with a blue center; green foliage

Unique fluted spoon-shaped petals offer a novelty focal point in a container or landscape. Flowers earlier than other varieties. Use as a stand-alone accent in a container or combine with trailing lavender bacopa and silvery dusty miller.

Photo by: Claire Belisle / Millette Photomedia

'Zion Copper Amethyst'
Osteospermum ecklonis

Zones:

9-11

Height/Spread:

Upright mounding habit, 16 to 20 inches tall and 16 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Flowers are orange, pink and purple, green foliage

Inspired by the desert hues of Zion National Park, this dazzling blended color combination glows like a Southwest sunset. Part of the Zion™ Series, this variety can be grown in a container with other plants that echo the warm colors, such as Superbena® Coral Red verbena, Superbells®Miss Lilac calibrachoa, and ColorBlaze® Sedona Sunset™ coleus.

Photo by: Simon Marshall / Flickr

Serenity™ Red
Osteospermum ecklonis

Zones:

10-11

Height/Spread:

Upright mounding habit, 10-14 inches tall and 14-20 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom Time:

Late spring until frost

Color:

Dark red flowers, green foliage

Part of the Serenity™ Series, the deep red flowers pair well with many other colors such as white, yellow, and blue. The low mounding habit makes this a good choice as a stand-alone accent in a container, as pathway edging, or in combination with other annuals. Use to help hold the soil in place on a slope.

DESIGN TIPS

‘Summer Sunset’ plant recipe in a hanging basket, with Orange Symphony African daisy, Supertunia® Royal Velvet®, and Superbena® Dark Blue. Photo by Proven Winners.

There are many ways to incorporate African daisies into your landscape. Here’s how:

  • Mass at the front of a mixed border for lasting color when perennials are out of bloom.
  • Plant a single specimen in a medium-sized ceramic pot with a similar or complementary color and place as a focal point on a patio, deck, balcony or table.
  • Hang a row of planter baskets along the front porch and combine with trailing plants such as lobelia, calibrachoa, or verbena for a welcoming display to greet visitors.
  • Alternate groupings of complementary colors such as purple and yellow along a slope for an eye-catching display that also helps hold soil in place.
  • Place a large decorative container at the end of a pathway. Plant African daisy and other brightly colored annuals for a focal point to draw the eye through the landscape.
  • Plant along a pathway and alternate with other annuals such as ‘Profusion’ zinnias or lantana that will flower through the hottest part of the summer so that there’s always something in bloom.
  • Site a window box in a sunny location and plant osteospermum with trailing plants such as sweet potato vine and verbena in colors that complement your home’s exterior.
  • Shepherd’s hooks are a great way to showcase hanging baskets for instant color by a patio, deck or poolside. Hooks are easily moved around for a fresh look.
  • The long branching stems and extended vase life makes this a good cut flower.

Container combinations:

African daisies combine well with many other annuals. Think creatively and make your own customized containers using the principle of “thriller, filler, spiller”—using African daisy as a filler.

  • Thriller companions (for height and volume) include: coleus, lantana, zonal geranium, dusty miller, heliotrope and purple fountain grass.
  • Spiller companions (to trail) include: petunias, calibrachoa, diascia, verbena, lobelia, sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) and nemesia.

RELATED:
Annual Flowers
Amazing Annuals for Sun
20 Purple Flowers to Brighten Your Garden
How to Create a Container Planting

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