Blue Marguerite – Felicia amelloides

Blue Marguerite is also called the Kingfisher Daisy, because of the dominant blue colouring of the flowers. All Felicias come from tropical or South Africa, and there are about 60 species included in this genus.

Most Felicias are small, shrubby plants, generally grown as annuals, although F. amelloides is actually a perennial. This typical member of the Daisy family still remains uncommon in Britain, although its popularity has been on the increase during the last two or three years.

Plants rarely exceed 45cm (18in) high. It is almost hardy, but not quite. However, if there is a fairly protected place where it can be located during the winter months, it will have a good chance of surviving. Given the ‘comfort’ of a cold greenhouse, or even a shed, Blue Marguerite will survive the chills of winter and rapidly start to develop new growth in the spring.Blue Marguerite - Felicia amelloides

The leaves of the Blue Marguerite are very narrow and slightly oblong in shape, greyish-green in colour and covered with minute hairs. These are densely arranged along the slender stems and branches to form an almost dome-shaped plan. The bright sky-blue flowers, each 2.5cm (1 in) or so in diameter, are an added bonus to a most attractive plant—the blue being made more vivid by the bright yellow centres.

Varieties

Only a few of the many species are generally available in this country, although seeds of some of the most uncommon species are becoming more easily available from specialist seedsmen.

  • F. bergeriana, also from South Africa, is an annual but if seeds are sown early in the year it will produce masses of cobalt-blue flowers with golden-yellow centres, obliterating the rather grass-like foliage. Seeds sown in March will be in full flower by late July or early August.
  • Pappei is a neat little shrub, rarely more than 30cm (12in) high with pale-green, almost succulent, leaves and delicate blue flowers. The flowers continue opening in succession over a period lasting from two to three months.

Propagation

Sow seeds in February or March in a seed tray containing seed compost. Spread them finely over the surface and lightly cover with a sprinkling of sharp sand. Keep moist and shaded in a propagator, or enclose the seed tray in polythene, at a temperature of 15°C (60°F). Germination will take place within 3-4 weeks. Once germinated, remove from the propagator or bag, but keep- the temperature until they are about 8cm (3in) high. Then prick out into small pots in soil-based potting compost, to which some sharp sand or perlite has been added. One month or so later, when vigorous growth is apparent, set them in the trough or window-box, without disturbing the rootball. In a very short space of time the flower buds begin to form, leading to a magnificent display throughout the summer.

Although there are many species of Felicias, only the most common are available as seeds in most garden centres. However, with their growing popularity, many more specialist seedsmen are selling rarer varieties.

Pests And Diseases

Blue Marguerite rarely falls prey to insect attack, but it is sensitive to over-watering, which leads to water logged roots and soil. To prevent this from happening, watering should be carried out with great care at all times.

Leaves turn brown, followed by rotting roots. This is a result of over-watering.

Treatment: Keep evenly moist in summer. Never allow too dry conditions to prevail for lengthy periods or roots will dehydrate, causing the plants to die.

PLANT CARE

Blue Marguerite is usually an undemanding plant. As flowers wither, nip them oft—this will encourage more to follow. For those over-wintered in a cold greenhouse, trim all dead flowers and withering foliage.

  • Potting: Use a mixture of 1 part sharp sand or perlite to 2 parts good, soil-based potting compost. It must always be free-draining.
  • Water moderately throughout the late spring and summer months, keeping the compost evenly moist but never too wet. In winter, water just enough to stop the roots dehydrating.
  • Feeding: Directly plants start into growth, add a weak liquid fertilizer to the watering every 2-3 weeks and continue until flowers begin to fade. Don’t feed in winter.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: The positioning of plants is very important. They should be placed in a sunny but sheltered location. A short spell of sunshine each day helps flowers and foliage.
  • Temperature: Blue Marguerites are not frost-hardy and must be brought in before the winter sets in. A shed or cold greenhouse is a good alternative, with a minimum temperature of 7°C (45°F).

Buying Tips

  • Young plants arc sometimes on offer at garden shops in Spring. Or you can buy newly-harvested seeds, which are available from specialist seedsmen.
  • Look for a sturdy, fresh and leafy specimen which shows every sign of energetic growth. Avoid plants with limp or discoloured leaves.
  • Blue Marguerite can be kept for many years, provided that careful attention is given to its requirements.

The brilliant sky-blue flowers of Blue Marguerite provide a colourful show in summer. The plant will thrive if placed in a bright, sunny and sheltered position.

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