African Daisies are lovely daisy-like plants that originate in South Africa. They were virtually unknown as a landscape plant 25 years ago, but are becoming more popular as people discover these cheerful flowers. They brighten up borders and containers wherever they are grown.
African Daisy Sowing Propagation
African daisies are colorful, annual flowers that thrive in warm, full sunlight. The seeds mature quickly into silver-leafed plants that produce blossoms in shades of yellow, orange, white, and pink. If you take the time to prepare your soil, sow the seeds correctly, and care for the flowers after planting, you can enjoy bright blooms for seasons to come.
Preparing Your Spot
- Find an area with plenty of sunlight. African daisies thrive in full sun exposure. The spot you choose shouldn't experience any prolonged periods of shade (no more than an hour or so) during daylight hours.
- Test the soil to make sure it's well-draining. These plants like soil that's almost sandy in texture, which means the spot needs great drainage. Dig a hole that's about 1 foot (0.3 m) (0.3 m) wide and 1 foot (0.3 m) deep. Fill the hole with water and let it drain. Then fill it again and record how long it takes to drain completely. If it takes less than 15 minutes, you're good to go.
- Improve drainage by breaking down clay in your soil. If your soil isn't draining quickly enough, there may be too much clay in it. Try breaking down the clay by mixing in a combination of natural compost, dead leaves, wood chips, tree bark, and about 15% horticultural sand. Dig down about a foot deep (0.3 m) and rake about six inches (15.24 cm) worth of the mixture into your soil.
- Plant in an area you can enjoy during the day. African daisies close up their blooms at night. If you have a patio that you mostly just use in the evenings, you may want to plant your daisies elsewhere. Go for a spot that allows you to bask in the plants’ bright colors during the daylight hours.
- Rake the soil to remove weeds and rocks. Once you’ve picked your spot, smooth out the soil. Get rid of all the weeds, rocks, and clumps of dirt with a rake or hoe. You can then pat the soil back down to make it even.
Planting the Seeds
- Plant in early to mid-spring after the last frost. Once the last frost has passed in your area, you're ready to plant! Be as sure as you can that frost season is over, however, as these plants probably won't survive a cold snap. If you're unsure whether the last frost has occurred, get in touch with your local nursery. You can also do an internet search to determine when the last frost usually takes place in your area.
- Plant seeds directly into the ground for best results. African daisies do best when they're sowed from seeds directly in your garden. The daisies don't love being transplanted, so you may struggle a bit if you choose to start seedlings indoors. If you want, you can start the seeds indoors in containers about 8-10 weeks before the last frost occurs in your region.
- Space the seeds about 10 inches (25 cm) apart. Sprinkle single seeds in spots well-spaced enough that the plants have plenty of room to grow. The grown plants don't mind a little bit of crowding. Once they've fully matured, they should be about a foot (30 cm) high. If you're transplanting small seedlings, plant these about 10 inches (25 cm) apart as well.
- Cover the seeds with ⅛ inch (3 mm) of gardening soil. Purchase gardening soil online or at a local nursery. Sprinkle just a small amount on top of the seeds. The seeds should be just barely covered. While you can just use the regular soil from your garden, gardening soil may work better. It can add some extra nutrients that may help the seeds germinate.
- Water the seeds until the soil is moist. Give the seeds a gentle watering. You don't want to disturb them from their spots, so water slowly and monitor the drainage. Stop when the soil is moist.
African Daisy Cutting Propagation
Most African Daisies are hybrids, so saving seed is not recommended. The resulting seedlings will not resemble the parent plant. The best way to propagate Osteospermum is to take cuttings from established plants. Here is an example of how to take and root cuttings.
- Prepare a tray of sterile seedling mixture by damping it with warm water until it feels like a well-squeezed sponge. Mix that is too wet will promote the growth of mold, and the cuttings will rot before they root.
- Select several good side shoots of your Osteospermum. Either pinch the buds out or select shoots where no blooms have formed yet. The cuttings do not need to put energy into forming blooms before they form roots. The cuttings need to have at least two sets of leaf axils and be two to three inches long.
- Cut the shoots with a sharp knife or scissors just below the leaf node, and strip the leaves off of that joint.
- Dip in rooting hormone to promote the growth of new roots. The most rooting hormone has anti-fungal also. It helps prevent the cuttings from rotting.
With a pointed instrument, make a hole in your mix that is just a little bigger than the stem. Carefully place the stem in the hole and firm the potting mix around it. The cuttings will root best with temperatures between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Put them in a bright area, but out of direct sunlight. Grow lights indoors are fine, or on a sheltered porch. The cuttings should form roots in 3 to 4 weeks. When they start to put on new growth, they have rooted and can be hardened off for planting in the garden. These cuttings will branch out and form side shoots if they are pinched back after a couple of weeks.