Gazania – The Treasure Flower

 Cheery Gazania Daybreak Red Stripe
Cheery Gazania 'Daybreak Red Stripe' with marigolds

Cheery Gazania 'Daybreak Red Stripe' with marigolds

Gazania are members of the aster family that originally resided in South Africa.  They are tough, little plants that bloom with bright, daisy-like blooms and seem to thrive no matter how extreme the sun, wind, poor soil or drought challenges they face.   They are “good cheer” plants that bloom even under the harshest conditions.

Botanically, they are known as Gazania rigens (Clumping Gazania or Treasure Flower).  The plants are frequently used en mass as a temporary colorful groundcover and do look best when grouped together.  Gazania grows very well with portulaca (moss rose) since they both like the same sunny conditions, are similar heights and can tolerate some drought.

Gazania are long bloomers and some have large 4” blooms in bright yellow, orange, red, pink and white (or many combinations of these colors) that flower from well from fall, through winter and into spring.  During summer they will often have intermittent blooms before reblooming well in the fall.  A tender annual up to zone 8, they can be a perennial in zone 9. Protect during hard freezes.

The plants grow to 6 inches tall (12 inches when in bloom) and 8 inches wide.  Many have very attractive silver foliage front and back (or just the reverse side).  I prefer the silver foliage types because they are very attractive even when the blooms are not open.

Gazania are attractive to many types of wildlife including beneficial bees, butterflies and birds (as well as pesky rabbits).

Do not overwater the plants or they become susceptible to crown rot (particularly in the winter in Southern climates).  Plant them in well-drained, sandy or gravelly soil.  Like many silver-leaved plants, they are very drought tolerant and suitable for xeriscape garden and containers growing.

Some older varieties have flowers that close up during rainy, cloudy or dark days- opening only when sunny.  Apparently, this is a defense mechanism from their South African days.  They close up their flowers to protect the pollen from moisture.  Low temperatures or poor light trigger the flowers to close.  Since gardeners really want to see these beautiful blooms as much as possible, plant breeders have been working diligently to select plants that stay open longer during cooler, duller weather.  To do this, plant breeders visited gazania trials in the middle of the night and discovered the Daybreak series, which were the first to stay open longer. 

Deadhead regularly to encourage more blooms (if you are not waiting to collect the seed or have them reseed).  Allow the seedheads to dry on the plant and remove them when almost dry (when the white, fluffy tail starts to fall off).  Store the seed head in a closed paper bag to finish drying.  Remember that hybrids probably will not come true to the parent.  Gazania will often reseed in the garden.  

Cultivars;

‘Aztec Queen’ multicolor, ‘Burgundy’ , ‘Christopher Lloyd’ rose and green, ‘Copper King’ orange, ‘Double Bronze’ , ‘Fiesta Red, dark orange-red, ‘Fire Emerald’ various, ‘Golden Margarita’ orange, ‘Gold Rush’ orange-yellow and brown,  ‘Mitzuwa Yellow’ yellow, ‘Moon Glow’ yellow, ‘Sundance’ gold/bronze and white, ‘Sunburst’ orange and yellow, ’Sundrop’ orange, ‘Sunglow’ yellow, ‘Sun Gold’ yellow, ‘Sunrise Yellow’ yellow and black.

Series Groups;

Chansonette, Daybreak, Dynastar, Kiss, Ministar, and Talent

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