African daisy is the common name for plants that belong to the osteospermum species and the Asteraceae biological family. Plants grow natively and in the wilds of Africa, particularly in the coastal and mountainous regions of the Republic of South Africa. Because of their daisy look and characteristics, they are often confused with Gerber daisies (Gebera jamesonii) and plants in the Dimorphetheca family. However, Dimorphetheca (also commonly called "African Daisy") plants only grow as annuals.
Osteospermum African daisies reach a height of about 12 inches. They grow as perennials in their native lands on the African continent. In the United States, they grow as perennials in USDA hardiness zones 9 and higher. Varieties bloom in colors that range from white to pink, purple, blue and yellow. African daisies are identifiable by their center colorings, which are most often darker than the flower petals. Petals have a long, slender oval shape which can reach 3 to 4 inches.
Native African Varieties
Many osteospermum varieties grow natively in Africa. The purple-blossomed Barbarae grows along the Eastern Cape region of South Africa. Ecklonis daisies flank the Western Cape region with their white blooms and dark blue center. Fructicosum also bears white flowers but with a mauve-colored center disc and grow along the coastal areas all over the Republic of South Africa. The pink-flowered Jucundum grows in the eastern mountains in areas as high as 2,000 meters from the sea, along with the white-flowered Caulescens that grows as far as 1,000 meters up the mountainsides.
Perennial Hybrids and Cultivars in the United States
Select a hybrid or cultivar that grows as a perennial, versus a "half hardy" annual, such as the Cape Daisy, which may or not grow as a perennial, hence the term. 'White Pim,' a hybrid between caulescens and fruticosum has white flowers and purple-blue center and grows as a perennial. 'Stardust' blooms with bright purple flowers and has a yellow center bordered by a copper ring. 'Silver Sparkler' shows off with variegated colors of white, green and yellow from spring through fall. Each of these perennial hybrids are fine choices for flowerbeds, borders and containers. You can also bring them indoors to make a cut flower arrangement.
Caring for Perennial African Daisies
African daisies are tolerant of soil types that range from loamy to sandy. They will even tolerate dry soil conditions and less frequent watering. Plant in an area that receives full sunlight. Don't be surprised if your plantings attract butterflies to your garden. Enjoy the spectacle of color and whimsy that your African daisies will provide.