Arctotis African daisy

Height: 30-60cm (1-2ft)

Planting: distance: 30cm (1ft)

Features: flowers: summer until first frost

Soil: ordinary, well-drained

Site: open, sun

Type: half-hardy annual

Bold, brightly coloured, daisy-like flowers and woolly, silvergrey leaves make this a striking plant to grow in borders and containers. Though tempting to cut for flower arranging, the blooms last only a short while.

In the garden, the flowcrheads tend to close in the afternoon or during dull, overcast weather, so position them where they will receive plenty of light – and can be appreciated in the morning.

Popular species and hybrids Arctotis grandis has large, white to primrose-yellow flowers with blue centres, lasting from mid summer until the first frost. It is a tall plant, reaching 60cm (2ft) high. Hybrids come in brilliant shades of red, yellow, apricot, orange, carmine, cream and white. They reach 30-60cm (1-2ft) high, making them popular for borders and bedding schemes. As cut flowers, you’ll find they last longer in water than the species.

‘Harlequin’’ is a rcselected mixture with a spreading, compact habit. It grows to a height of 30cm (1 ft) and contains a number of unusual shades, many with contrasting-coloured centres.

‘Treasure Chest’, a mixture with tall, colourful flowers, grows to a height of 45cm (1 1/2ft).

Cultivation

Sow seeds directly in the flowering site in mid spring. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, thin them to approximately 15cm (6in) apart. As the young plants grow, make a further thinning to achieve a final spacing of 30cm (1 ft) apart.

For earlier flowers, sow seeds indoors in early spring, in boxes or trays of seed compost. Keep at a temperature of 18°C (64°F) until germination has occurred. When the young seedlings have emerged, the temperature may be dropped to 16°C (60°F) for further growth before hardening off in a cold frame then planting out in late spring.

African daisies grow in most well-drained soils, but they need a sunny site. When the plants are 10-13cm (4-5in) high, pinch out the growing tips to encourage bushy growth. Support tall varieties with twiggy sticks, and deadhead to extend the flowering season.

Pests and diseases: Aphids may infest young growth, and grey mould can be a problem in wet weather. 20cm (8in)

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