Gazanias (Gazania rigens), also referred to as Treasure Flowers or African Daisies, are a member of the daisy family (Asteraceae). They are often listed in catalogs or on plant markers as annuals but are actually what one would call a ‘tender’ perennial.
In the warmest climates like in southern Africa where they originate, gazanias will grow and bloom all year. In the United States, only zones 9 through 11 provide the climate for year-round growth. Outside of USDA zone 9 through 11, gazanias will succumb to frost in the winter unless they are brought indoors.
Don’t think that Gazanias are fussy flowers. Gazanias are incredibly easy to grow, almost to a fault if that is even possible. Growing these gorgeous flowers involves minimal effort and care, hence they are perfect for newbies gardeners. Just make sure you choose a slightly sunny location and water them only when the soil is dry.
Interestingly, in southern California or Australia, these flowers grow abundantly. Some people would consider them to be somewhat invasive. Their incredible colors attract bees, butterflies and birds.
Details About Gazania
Some people believe the gazania was named after the 15th-century Greek-Italian scholar, Theodorus of Gaza. Others say the name originates from the Latin word Gaza, meaning “treasure”. In ancient folk medicine, gazanias were supposed to prevent miscarriage and ease toothache. They were also thought to be effective for treating pneumonia, earache, headache, and sterility.
The daisy-like petals of gazania bloom in bright sunlight. On cloudy days and certainly at the onset of evening, the petals retract and close in upon themselves, as if the flowers are going to sleep. This is a process called nyctinasty. This plant behavior is not fully understood. Perhaps it is a protective measure. Perhaps the behavior helps the plant prevent its pollen from becoming heavy-laden with dew or with pests.
Commercially, gazanias grow in a wide array of attention-grabbing colors: bright shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, and white. They may be two-toned or multi-colored.
Many gardeners use this low-growing flower along with other ground covers on difficult sunny slopes and in rock gardens. They do well along the edges of patios or sidewalks where the dirt meets the pavement. Gazanias are a perfect plant for xeriscape gardening. The goal of xeriscape gardening is to reduce or eliminate the need for watering.
Plants grow an average height of 6 to 10 inches (15 cm. to 25 cm). The gazania is tolerant of poor, dry, sandy soil and does not mind the heat of a summer day or even the salt in the air of an oceanside community. Their flowers will continue to blossom from early summer through fall with very few demands on the gardener.
How To Grow Gazania
Gazania care does not involve much more than planting and watering. Individual plants should be set about 9 inches to 12 inches (23 cm. to 30 cm.) apart so as not to become overcrowded. Divide well-established plants every 2 or 3 years. This is a great way to share them with friends.
It is best to deadhead any spent blooms to promote more flower growth. Pots of gazania can spend the winters indoors. It is always a good idea to check for pests like aphids before bringing plants indoors.
Drought tolerant gazanias will produce more blooms when watered between periods of drought. Overhead watering is completely fine. Do not allow the roots to remain soaked for any length of time. Allow the soil to dry out before watering again.
Gazanias have few demands when it comes to soil. It should be average or sandy soil that is well-drained. They will tolerate poor or loamy soil, but if they are not well-drained, the roots are prone to rot or fungal growth.
Plant gazania in an area of the garden receiving full sun. It would be a shame to plant them even in a partially shaded area, and then lose out on hours of colorful, showy blooms.
If desired, you may fertilize gazanias in the garden every 4 to 5 weeks with a general-purpose fertilizer. Container-grown gazanias should be fertilized every two weeks with a potash-rich fertilizer. (What is potash, you might ask? Potash is potassium carbonate, a potassium-rich salt that is mined or manufactured.)
There is no need to prune gazanias except for clipping off the spend flowers. See the next section for more information about reproducing plants.
Propagation of Gazania
There are two ways to propagate gazania: from basal cuttings or from seed.
Method 1: From basal cuttings
Take cuttings in the fall before the cold of winter. To root cuttings from the main plant, select a healthy section of a flowerless stem that is growing well. Snip the end of the stem with a clean pair of shears or pruners. Remove any leaves at the bottom of the stem. Immediately place the stem in about 1” to 2” of water where it will sprout roots. Keep your eye on the water level over a few weeks so that it does not completely evaporate. Add water if necessary. After some roots have developed, take the basal cuttings and plant them in 4” (10 cm.) pots filled with good quality potting soil. Plant the rooted cutting outdoors in the spring, about 24” to 30” (61-76 cm.) apart. Keep watered for about two weeks until the plants become established in the garden.
Method 2: From seed
If propagating gazania from seed, start indoors in the late winter, about 6 to 8 weeks before the last spring frost. Plant the seeds about 1/8” deep and 9” to 12” (23 cm. to 30 cm.) apart and cover lightly with a good quality soil or seed starting soil. Keep the soil in a bright location where the temperature remains 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit (15-18 Celsius). Seeds germinate in 10 to 15 days. Flower bloom occurs about 12 weeks after planting seeds.
Varieties of Gazania
There are two main types of gazanias – clumping and trailing. Clumping gazanias form a nice mound of green, lobed leaves that are slightly silvery on the underside. Trailing gazanias will grow the same height as clumping plants but will spread by long trailing stems. Their foliage is more of a silvery gray.
There are so many wonderful varieties of gazania to choose from that it is hard not to be excited about them! It’s also hard to choose just one:
Gazania “Big Kiss White Flame” – the petals on this flower are white with a bright pink ‘stripe’ down the middle of each petal. With a yellow center, this extra-large bloom is 5” across (12 cm.).
Gazania “Big Kiss Yellow Flame” – these are also extra-large blooms 5” across (12 cm.) but where the Big Kiss White Flame has white petals, this variety has brilliant yellow with a deep pink stripe down each center.
Gazania “Kiss Bronze” – this plant produces double flowers in a bronzy orange shade.
Gazania “Kiss Gold” – the benefit of this variety with its golden petals is it will even flower on cloudier days.
Gazania “New Day Red Stripe” – this variety boasts large golden-orange flowers with a deep red strip in the center of each petal.
Gazania “New Day Rose Stripe” – the petals on this variety are a creamy white with a rose-colored stripe down the center of each petal.
Gazania “Tiger Stripes” – the petals of this large blossom are a golden-yellow with a dark mahogany stripe along the middle of each petal.
Gazania variegata – the leaves of this variety are unique, being dark green edged with cream and yellow.
Gazania “Sunbathers Sunset” – the petals are a deep orangey bronze with coppery “eyes” at the base where they connect to the center golden orb.
Gazania “Sunset Lemonspot” – this variety looks like it sounds; a completely lemony yellow flower, both in the center orb and in its petals.
You might wonder what other flowering plants would like nice in a garden as companion plants or on a patio with containers of gazanias. You will want to choose a drought tolerant, compatible flower.
The powerful colors of calibrachoa are a competitive match for gazania. You might also try some angelonia which would add some height next to the lower growing gazania. Other taller alternatives that look very natural are coreopsis, gomphrena, lavender, and echinacea.
A multi-colored portulaca as well as many types of succulents that thrive in drought or semi-drought conditions will do well. You might even pair a silvery dusty miller alongside gazania for a soft contrast.
The Verdict on Gazania
As you have seen, gazanias are very versatile landscaping plants. Both trailing gazanias and mounding gazanias do well in hard to grow areas like on banks and slopes where erosion may become a problem. They look beautiful in hanging baskets. They can cascade over walls with their trailing stems hanging over the sides. They are not prone to pests. They can survive drought-like conditions. And they can be found in a wide array of brilliant colors. What is not to love? Gazania truly is a ‘treasure’ of a flower!
What about you? Have you grown gazania? What are your favorite varieties, and where did you plant them? Do leave us a comment and share this article on social media.