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How to Grow African Daisy (Osteospermum) in Australia

As long as you plant your African daisies in a sunny spot and protect them from frost, they will thrive in your garden in most areas around the country.

African daisies are bright and cheerful plants that can add some glorious colour to your garden. I love these easy-care perennials as they can be used in a variety of sunny spots in the garden and come in an array of different colours.

Osteospermums are native to South Africa which is why they’re commonly known as African daisies. They flower mainly from late winter and right through summer but can spot flower at other times of the year.

As these plants are low-growing and can spread for up to a metre, they are ideal for filling spaces in your garden beds. They’re also popular in cottage gardens.

African Daisy Osteospermum 4 | Plant care

Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about growing African daisies.

How to grow African daisies

As long as you plant your African daisies in a sunny spot and protect them from frost, they will thrive in your garden in most areas around the country.

Light requirements

Osteospermums should be grown in a sunny position in the garden. Although they can handle a little shade, if they don’t get enough sun, they’ll become lanky and won’t flower abundantly.

These gorgeous flowers can also be grown in pots so that you can move them around to get the glorious sunshine that they need.

African Daisy Osteospermum 2 | Plant care

Temperature and humidity

These hardy plants can be grown in most parts of the country from tropical and sub-tropical regions to warm temperate and even arid areas.

They will also grow quite happily in cooler regions as long as they’re protected from heavy frosts.

African daisies don’t require a lot of humidity and do prefer drier conditions. They will handle some humidity but you need to watch out for grey mould if you experience long periods of high humidity.

Soil requirements

Ideally, African daisies love sandy soils. However, they can adapt to a whole range of soil types except for very heavy clay soils.

The soil should also be free-draining as these plants won’t thrive in soggy conditions.

If you do happen to have heavy clay soil, this can be improved over time by adding some gypsum and lots of organic matter. Another way to amend heavy clay soil is to mulch it heavily with acacia mulch and let it sit for a few months.

Over time, the mulch will break down and you’ll end up with much more friable soil.

However, you can also grow African daisies in pots, so this might be a good solution for people who have soils on the heavier side.

African Daisy Osteospermum 3 | Plant care

These plants are ideal for growing around coastal areas because they will love the sandier soils.

Water requirements

Osteospermums are relatively drought-tolerant and once established, won’t need supplementary watering.

However, if you’re experiencing a long hot and dry period, it’s a good idea to give them a drink at least once a week.

Fertiliser

These plants are not heavy feeders and will only need one application of slow-release fertiliser in spring.

Osteospermums will also benefit from regular applications of a seaweed concentrate such as Seasol during the flowering period.

Pruning

As they’re perennials, African daisies will benefit from a general tidy-up in autumn. This will eliminate leggy growth and ensure that lots of new growth will keep the plants bushy.

When pruning, just cut the foliage back to a healthy set of leaves or growth buds. Many gardeners also prefer to deadhead the spent blooms as this encourages more flowering.

African Daisy Osteospermum 5 | Plant care

Problems, pests and diseases

African daisies are hardy and not prone to many pests or diseases. If conditions are a little damp, you might find that snails are a problem.

These can easily be controlled by using Multiguard Snail and Slug pellets scattered around your plants. These pellets are pet and wildlife friendly and are the only ones I use in my garden.

As an alternative, you can purchase snail baits that you can place around the base of your plants.

As mentioned earlier, grey mould can be a problem for Osteospermums growing in very humid conditions. If you do have this problem, it’s best just to cut away the infected foliage to help control the spread.

How to propagate African daisies from cuttings

As African daisies are fairly short-lived perennials, you might like to propagate new plants to replace the ones that have reached the end of their life.

This is quite simple by taking tip cuttings in mid to late summer. Choose strong-growing and healthy stem cuttings that have not flowered. 

You want your cuttings to be around 7 to 8 cm long and these should have around three to four leaf axils. Make the cut just underneath one of these leaf axils.

Remove the bottom leaves and just leave the ones at the top. I usually like to use a seed-raising mix for striking cuttings but have also had success using quality potting mix. 

For African daisies, you want the mix to be well-draining, so you could make up a mixture using sand and coconut coir. Make sure you use builder’s sand from the garden centre and not beach sand.

Place your cuttings into the mix and keep them fairly moist until roots start to appear. This shouldn’t take too long if the weather is still relatively warm.

What colours of African daisies are there?

With modern plant breeding, African daisies are now available in a huge range of colours. 

African Daisy Osteospermum 1 | Plant care

Osteospermum species normally have white daisy flowers with petals that are darker underneath. The flowers have a deep purple centre. 

Popular flower colours of hybrids and cultivars include red, pink, orange, mauve, purple, yellow and white.

Some plants even have flowers that sport different colours and most have a different coloured centre, mainly purple or yellow.

FAQ

Do African daisies come back every year?

African daisies are perennials so in Australia they’ll continue to grow all year round. However, they are fairly short-lived, around two to three years, so you will need to replace them with new plants that you can propagate using cuttings.

Do African daisies like sun or shade?

African daisies definitely prefer to grow in full sun. They can tolerate a little shade but won’t flower as well and will become quite straggly.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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