Osteospermum

osteospermum21

Asteraceae is the second largest family of flowering plants, encompassing 1,600 genera and 23,000 species.  It includes many familiar flowers such as marigold, dahlia, chrysanthemum, zinnia, gerbera and daisy.  Also included are some more surprising plants such as lettuce, artichokes, sunflower, goldenrod and chamomile. Out of all these related plants, the one that interests me today is called Osteospermum. That’s kind of a mouthful, so people call it African Daisy, Cape Daisy, South African Daisy or Blue Eyed Daisy. There are 50 or more species of Osteospermum and most of them are native to Africa.

osteospermum12I have an Osteospermum plant growing in my yard right now. It’s sold as an annual in my area, so I was surprised to see that it is still looking good after a lot of cool weather and several frosts. Instead of just being grateful it is still alive, I did a little research to find out why.  Along the way I learned that Osteospermum are considered Half Hardy Perennials, which is a term that was new to me. osteospermum26We all know that perennials are plants you can count on to be around for years. Half Hardy Perennials are plants that might or might not live through the winter if left alone. Dahlias, geranium and tuberous begonias are also half hardy perennials. If you want them to survive the winter in colder zones, they need extra help, such as moving them indoors, or lifting the tubers.

osteospermum14The Osteospermum that I have is a pale purple, but they come is a wide range of colors including white, rose, purple, pink, peach, bicolor and yellow. The center is usually blue, but may be yellow. Some species have petals which “spoon” or roll up at night or when it is cloudy. These are even more interesting because the bottom sides of the petals are a different color. All species bloom in the spring, but some bloom again when the nights cool down in the fall. This is an easy plant to grow.  Other than water once in a while, I’ve done nothing special. Dead-heading is not necessary because they do not set seed very easily. To get more of these plants, you need to root a cutting, something that I’ve not had any luck with so far. Now that I’ve learned more about this plant, I’m going to go pot it and bring it into the house. Maybe it will still be around next summer.

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