The Gazania is a hardy, indigenous beauty that turns her cheery face to the warm rays of the summer sun. But when clouds come along, she folds up her petals and sulks.
While a few varieties originate in tropical Africa, most Gazanias are indigenous to South Africa. They’re part of the vast floral treasury of the warm, dry south- and northwestern Cape and Namaqualand. The Gazania is ideal for the waterwise garden. The plants always look good, but come into their own during the summer months when they flower continuously. They’re at their most beautiful in natural looking gardens, with rocks and garden paths of tree bark that resemble their natural habitat, and are an excellent choice for pavements, thanks to their drought-resistance.
Soil Gazanias need good drainage, so work in lots of compost and add river sand if you have clay soil.
Leaves The clump-forming Gazanias have smooth, shiny, dark green leaves, while the trailing varieties feature silver green dentate leaves.
Flowers These bright beauties are available in a staggering choice of colours ranging from dark red to orange and yellow, as well as shades of pink and cream. The petals can be of a single colour or in graded shades with dark bases and pale tips. The bases of the petals often feature spots, dots or darker areas, or even finely ‘framed’ contrasting colours.
Feeding Gazanias aren’t fussy but will flower even more profusely with a mulch of compost and tree bark.
Position Full sun is essential.
Maintenance Occasionally snip off dead blooms to keep them tidy.
Good companions Any other sun-loving plants but, as Gazanias are low-growing, they should be planted in the front of mixed beds.
Pests and diseases Gazanias are generally strong and healthy but may develop downy mildew if deprived of sun and water. Treat this with a suitable fungicide.
For the vase Gazanias aren’t really suitable for cutting but will certainly brighten your day in a small pot on a sunny patio.
Now in nurseries
1 Gazania ‘Daybreak Pink’ has a combination of pale- and dark-pink petals.
2 Gazania ‘Daybreak Garden Sun’ boasts bright yellow petals.
3 Gazania ‘Chansonette Pink Shades’ with its ‘painted’ dark pink petals that pale towards the tips.
4 Gazania rigens ‘Beda’ is a trailing gazania with silver green leaves. The golden yellow flowers have petals that are spotted in black and white at the base.
5 The streaky Gazania ‘Daybreak Red Stripe’.
6 The Gazania ‘Daybreak Bronze’ has dark orange petals that pale towards the tips.