The gazania flower, named after the 15th-century Greek-Italian scholar Theodorus of Gaza, is a low maintenance South African annual that will brighten up your hard-to-landscape spaces. The look-at-me color spectrum available in gazanias may not blend into a Victorian cottage garden, but butterflies will flock to these prolific summer bloomers.
Get to Know Gazania Flowers
Gazania flowers are a member of the daisy family Asteraceae, genus Gazania. Also known as the treasure flower or the African daisy, the gazania is a half-hardy annual, and will bounce back from a light frost. In USDA growing zones 9-11, gazanias may perform as perennials.
Gazania flowers thrive in full sun. Morning or afternoon shade may cause the flowers to stay closed for a portion of the day, and may cause the plants to grow lanky, exceeding their normal height of six to ten inches.
The leathery foliage of gazania plants is a clue to the high drought tolerance of this flower. Leaves are green to gray in color, and grow in a lance shape. The daisy-like flowers grow in a variety of hot hues on the color wheel, like red, orange, and yellow. Many flowers feature solids and horizontal or vertical variegation on petals, sometimes with splashes of white and bright pink.
How to Plant Gazania Flowers
Gazania is easy to grow to a fault: this ornamental is considered weedy in some parts of Southern California and Australia. If you grow your gazania flowers from seed, start them indoors about 10 weeks before the last frost in your area. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil and keep them moist throughout the germination and transplant stage. Harden them off and set them outdoors two weeks after the average last frost.
If you prefer no-fuss seed starting, try sowing gazania seeds directly in the garden. After all danger of frost has past, sprinkle the seeds in an area of raked soil. Scatter handfuls of soil to cover the seeds, as darkness helps to trigger germination.
Plant young gazania plants about a foot apart, allowing them to reach their eventual spread of 10 inches without crowding, which promotes mildew. If your soil is heavy, plant your gazanias in containers with a companion planting of lantana, which has similar growing conditions and complementary colors.
How to Care for Gazania Flowers
In their native habitat of the rocky cliffs of South Africa, gazanias grow in soils of low fertility. Compost and supplemental fertilizer aren’t necessary. Deadhead gazania flowers to extend the blooming time of the plants.
Gazania plants are adaptable enough to overwinter indoors so you won’t need to purchase new plants or seeds for the next growing season. You can dig up the plant at autumn's end while they are still in bloom, bringing the beauty of the outdoors in. However, the plant won't be able to maintain its flower output indoors, so cut the plant back and keep it in a cool, sunny window. Water when the soil surface is dry. Check the plants regularly for pests like mealybugs that may proliferate on indoor specimens.
Garden Design With Gazania
Gazania flowers are for any gardener who is looking for a high-impact bloom that doesn't require much maintenance. Gazania plants don’t mind the heat that radiates off the pavement, so you can include them in your sidewalk garden or alongside your driveway. Plant gazanias with other flowers that like hot and dry conditions, such as vinca, cosmos, verbena, or globe amaranth.
Gazanias shine in containers on your deck and patio where they will attract butterflies for up-close observation. Plant gazanias at the edge of the pot, where their trailing habit will soften container edges. Their preference for sharply drained soil makes them a natural choice for the rock garden. Gazanias also tolerate salt, so try them in your seaside garden.
Gazania Varieties to Try
Gardeners who live in areas with short growing seasons should try gazanias from the Chansonette series, which flower very early. Love the classic look of white flower gardens? the Creamsicle gazania cultivar sports ivory petals with a simple bronze center disk. Another early performer is the Daybreak series, which yields large flowers quickly from seed in sunset colors or stripes. Gardeners who work long daytime hours will appreciate that the paprika petals of Sunbather's Sunset stay open into the evening, rather than shutting up tight like most varieties do at twilight. The monochromatic gold petals and disks of Sundrop gazanias will bring a ray of sunshine to any flower garden. Some of the brightest gazania flowers grow in the Tiger Stripe Mix, which produce red or hot pink stripes on white or gold petals. Kiss Bronze Star gazanias are a riot of color when they unfurl two-tone petals of orange and gold. Get double the beauty when you plant Talent Mix, which has silver foliage that contrasts vividly against bright flowers.