In all honesty, I have to say that I have never grown the flowers that I’m featuring in today’s blog, but after researching them this week, they are on my list for next year! Gazania, or commonly called Treasure Flower, is a wonderfully colorful annual/perennial that is perfect for flower beds and containers. I’m not sure where I’ll grow my Gazania yet, but because I live in Oregon with lots of rain and clay soil, I know that I’m limited to containers or raised beds where the Gazania roots can drain freely. But, I’m not going to let that fact deter my enthusiasm for these marvelous flowers!
Gazanias are native to temperate areas of South Africa. There are 16 species of the genus, some annuals and some perennials. Their name is from a man who translated botanical texts, Theodore of Gaza, from Greek to Latin in the 15th century. A second common name for Gazania is African Daisy.
Treasure Flower plants are low-growing and they form clumps of narrow leaves giving them a full and grassy appearance. Contrasting with the grass-like foliage are the large (4 – 5 inch), showy flowers that are plentiful and vibrant. The flowers often have marks of contrasting color, and the bi-color combinations give a sunburst look. Originally, the blooms were in shades of yellow, gold or orange, but today’s cultivars have increased the colors to red, white and shades of pink. Gazania flowers are open on sunny days, and they close on cloudy, cooler days and nights. During the days while their blooms are fully open, butterflies enjoy visiting each colorful bloom and drawing nectar.
Not only are Gazanias beautiful, but they are also very drought tolerant. They soak up full sun extremely well which makes them useful for edging along driveways or walkways where there is extra heat. Treasure Flower plants also perform well in containers and window boxes. In the flower bed, they mix well with ornamental grasses, euphorbias and succulents. Gazanias prefer light, sandy soil that drains well. They need full sun and prefer the hottest part of the landscape. Treasure Flower care includes regular deadheading to encourage continual blooms on into fall. An application of organic compost around the top of the Gazania plants, once they’re established, is a great way to feed them all growing season. Keep actively growing Gazania plants well-watered, letting them dry out in-between waterings.
Gazania rigens is one of the most well-known varieties today. It is usually grown as an annual or half-hardy perennial. It can be over-wintered indoors or carefully sheltered for climates that have freezing temperatures. If wintering a Gazania plant indoors, keep it barely moist until spring when it’s ready to set out again.
Treasure Flowers can easily be grown from Gazania seed in the spring. For areas with a cold spring, start the Gazania seeds indoors 4 – 6 weeks before the last frost is expected. Using sterile soil and trays, press the flower seeds into pre-moistened soil. The tray does not need to be in a well-lit area until after seedlings appear, and then move the tray to a sunny window. Seedlings can be transplanted when they are 2 inches into a larger pot. Gradually harden young Gazania seedlings to outside conditions before planting out. For areas with warm springs, the Gazania seeds can be started directly outside in a prepared seedbed. Thin to strongest seedling and keep spacing at 10 – 12 inches apart. Many gardeners living in frost-free zones will use Treasure Plants as a year round ground cover. Gazania ground cover will bloom year round in zones 9 – 11.
Maybe you will want to put Gazanias on your list for next year as well. They certainly do add a touch of the exotic to the garden, and they are superb for sun-baked sites next to rocks or cement. I’m thinking about adding a couple of window boxes to the front of my house – just so that I can fill them with Gazanias!
Question for the week: Do you grow Gazanias and where do you have them positioned in your landscape?
By Kimberly Bell