Sunday, June 7, 2015

Gazania ‘Sunbathers’ adding awesome pops of color

When it comes to non-stop bloomers that thrive in our hot summer sun, African daisies are hard to beat. “African daisy” doesn’t refer to one specific flower. Instead it encompasses several related genera, typically Osteospermum, Artotis and Gazania.

Osteospermums are so common in our area that they are lovingly referred to as “freeway daisies.” They thrive in hostile places like median strips of parking lots and, as their nickname suggests, along the freeway (provided they get at least occasional watering). With their trailing habit, they are a fast-growing and attractive groundcover

Arctotis are particularly elegant because of their silver foliage. I recently added two Arctotis hybrids called ‘Wine’ to the front yard.

But the most beautiful of the African daisies are the gazanias, especially the newer hybrids. They come in many different colors—white, pink, yellow, orange, red—and the flowers of the latest introductions are larger and more complex that ever before.

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Left to right: ‘Totonaca’, ‘Tikal’ and ‘Otomi’

One of the newest series of gazania hybrids is called ‘Sunbathers’. Unlike regular gazanias, the flowers of these hybrids stay open in low light, at least partially. I first became aware of ‘Sunbathers” in a recent post on Kris Peterson’s awesome blog Late to the Garden Party. Yesterday I was at our local Ace Hardware to buy some mulch and I spotted several ‘Sunbathers’ for sale. I ended up buying three different cultivars: ‘Totonaca’, ‘Tikal’ and ‘Otomi’.

‘Otomi’ reminds me of a purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea):

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Gazania ‘Sunbathers Otomi’

‘Tikal’ has the circus-tent stripes of ‘Harlequin’ marigold.

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Gazania ‘Sunbathers Tikal’

And ‘Totonaca’ looks a very fancy miniature sunflower:

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Gazania ‘Sunbathers Totonaca’

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There are nine hybrids in total in the ‘Sunbathers’ series. You can see them on the website of the grower that created them, Jaldety. Thomson & Morgan and Burpee sell seeds for some cultivars so they appear to fertile. I will try to collect seeds in the fall; for now I will keep my plants deadheaded to encourage more flowers. Having seeds on hand will be a good insurance policy because gazanias aren’t very hardy and don’t reliably overwinter here.

Gazanias are fantastic companion plants to succulents. In my garden, they get watered once a week via drip irrigation once established (two to three months after planting). That’s the same watering regimen I use for everything else.

The two ‘Otomi’ I bought went in the planting strip outside the front yard fence near the Arctotis ‘Wine’. The others I added to the newest succulent in the front yard (update to follow soon). I appreciate pops of color in the dead of summer, and these gazanias are sure to deliver.

13 comments:

  1. I hope they do well for you, Gerhard. I'm on the look out for more in this series myself and may try growing some from seed this winter. Something has begun eating my flowers - and I don't think it's an insect as there's no sign of any of the usual suspects. The flowers appear to have been eaten whole, virtually overnight, with just a few tidbits left behind. If there were rabbits in my immediate area, I'd point my finger in that direction but I've never seen them here. I'm wondering if the raccoons or the squirrels have gotten developed a taste for them. I put down non-toxic repellent and no flowers have been eaten since but I'm keeping watch.

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    1. I was going to get some more but I couldn't face the heat yesterday. We're having our first triple-digit day today. Hopefully this heat wave won't last long.

      The only critter problem I've had was with rats but they seem to have moved on. Knock on wood.

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  2. Was just admiring these blooms over the weekend, they do add splashes of hot colours to a garden. Hope they do very well for you :)

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    1. Since it takes a while for succulents to grow large enough to make a visual impact, I love fillers like these gazanias.

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  3. Those will look great in your or any succulent bed. Good to know they are available in the Uk as well.

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    1. From what I was able to figure out, they were developed in Israel by Jaldety. It's not surprising they're being sold in the U.K. as well.

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  4. Pop indeed! Might be worth growing as a container annual here for that color! My only experience with Gazanias was early in my gardening life, when rabbits ate them just hours after I planted. (They'd go up on the deck now because of that!)

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    1. Is there anything rabbits won't eat? I'm actually surprised we've never had an issue because we're right on edge of town, with fields beyond.

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  5. I added a couple myself, after seeing them on Kris' blog. Maybe she had started A Trend. Your choices are very nice!

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    1. What's not to love about gazanias. Sometimes gardeners (myself included) just need a little nudge :-).

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  6. Gazanias are one of my favorite repeat annuals in Portland. Most years they survive winter and often reseed enough that I only have to replace a few that rot out. I will have to look for these.

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    1. Wow, they're hardier than I thought. That's good to know.

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  7. There must be a microclimate out in Lents because I've only had one survive a winter once in PDX. I didn't grow any last year unfortunately, because they surely could have lived easily through our winter that wasn't!

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