Plant Pick – Growing Osteospermum (Cape Daisy)
I always feel as if some plants are vastly overlooked for tropical looking species and varieties that are new on the scene. Osteospermum (African Daisy), for example, seems to have a new colour shade coming out every years. However, I still have an extremely strong affection for Osteospermum jucundum; an extremely beautiful simple flower that has elegance and simplicity about it. I’ve kept it for decades, both growing up and in my own garden here in East London. It’s versatile, colourful, easy to grow and propagate and also attracts wildlife. What’s not to love?
One the best things about this base plant, as compared to the numerous brightly coloured varieties is, certainly in my eyes, it’s hardier. I’ve had cuttings of the same plant for over 10 years and though I’ve had bronze, yellow and purple variations on a theme, they’ve all finally succumbed to winter weather. Jucundum is a deciduous perennial that’ll pop back year after year. It’s extremely easy to take cuttings from too (I defy anyone not to be able to cut some stems, stick them in water and get them to produce roots), so as parent plants get leggy, it’s best to propagate before pulling up the main plant and replanting the fresh stock. Even if you don’t take cuttings, I’d advise a hard chop back every few years. As the stems lay on the soil, they’ll take root and other wither away behind this point, putting new growth onto the tips. It means that this plant literally creeps forward every year, moving around your garden as it sees fit unless you trim!
Another wonderful thing about the African daisy is that the flowers move around to meet the sun, opening and closing at the start and end of each day too. I love this active lifeforce that drives them, and it adds another wonderful dimension to the garden. Insects love them too, and when midday arrives and the petals have been pushed backwards to greet the rays, you’ll find all manner of bugs enjoying the nectar.
Though they prefer a sunny position, I’ve grown Jucundum in partial shade and it’s flowered well; the only downside is it becomes stringy more quickly. I’ve also create great pots of this beautiful flower with swathes of flowers hanging over the side. Popped into a herbaceous border, it’s a fine addition to any garden, but there’s no reason it can’t be a statement piece either. For example, how about dark topiary of dense green, highlighted by bright white flowers? Or a border of grasses and heucheras interspersed with dazzling daisies? For me, it definitely deserves a place as my plant pick this week!
Name: Osteospermum jucundum
Thrives In: Prefers full sun, but it’ll work in partial shade as long as you don’t mind snipping more often to keep it in shape.
Yearly Care: Deadhead as it flowers to keep fresh buds appearing. Before the onset of winter, take a few cuttings to ensure that if the worst occurs, you’ll have a few spare plants. Trim back heavily every year or so to ensure your clump doesn’t turn into a stringy, lacklustre mat.
Growing Medium: Well drained soil’s best, though it’ll grow in many substrates aside from heavy clay.