Osteospermum: How to Grow and Care for African Daisy



Plant Type: Perennials
Family: Osteospermum - African Daisies
Sun Exposure: Full Sun
Watering: Regularly, Moist and well-drained soil
Colors: Purple, white, pink, yellow, orange
Size: 1–3 ft. tall, 1–2 ft. wide
Hardiness Zones: 10-11
Soil Type: Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH: Acidic
Propagation: Softwood cuttings in late Spring
Toxicity: Nontoxic

Osteospermum, commonly known as African daisies or daisybushes, is a genus of flowering plants in the sunflower/daisy family Asteraceae. These vibrant and hardy plants originate from Southern and Eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, where they have adapted to thrive in heat and full sunlight. With their attractive, daisy-like blooms, these flowers have become a popular choice for gardeners to add color and texture and shape to their landscapes.

In order to grow and care for osteospermum, it is important to provide conditions that mimic their natural environment. This includes well-drained soil and ample sunlight, as these plants prefer full sun exposure. Osteospermum plants can tolerate dry soils, making them suitable for various types of gardens and climates, including areas with water restrictions. When it comes to fertilizing osteospermum, adding a balanced fertilizer in the spring before planting can promote growth and healthy blooms. Applying a liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the summer can also help maintain their stunning appearance as they continue to flower and thrive throughout the season.

These flowers belong to the subshrub classification due to their bunch-like growth pattern. In southern climates without persistent frosts, some African daisies bloom annually. Not only do these hardy, colorful flowers attract butterflies, but they are also easy to plant and maintain.


African daisies (Osteospermum) are vibrant, hardy plants native to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. To grow them, provide well-drained soil, full sun, and a balanced fertilizer in spring. They tolerate dry soils and can thrive in various climates. Osteospermum plants bloom annually in frost-free southern climates. Attractive to butterflies, these colorful flowers are easy to plant and maintain.

General Care for Osteospermum (African Daisy)


Soil Requirements

Osteospermum thrives best in well-drained, evenly moist soil. To promote healthy growth, it is essential to avoid overly wet soil, as it can stress the plants and even cause them to die. Maintaining an optimal balance of soil moisture is crucial for growing healthy African Daisies.

Watering African Daisy

When it comes to watering Osteospermum plants, they are fairly drought tolerant once established. During the initial stages, ensure that new plants receive sufficient water to help them become stable. In the absence of rain, water them daily and regularly check the soil dampness. Over-watering can lead to root rot, which should be avoided.

Sunlight Requirements

These plants prefer full sun for the best growth and blooming. Although they can tolerate partial shade, the plants will likely produce fewer flowers if they don’t receive enough sunlight. To ensure a vibrant display of flowers, provide them with ample sun exposure.

Temperature Preferences

Osteospermum plants can endure a range of temperatures but grow best in cool to mildly warm conditions. Make sure to germinate seeds in a cool, well-lit area without using heat, as they do not favor warm germination temperatures. Transplant indoors-grown seedlings outdoors after the last expected frost date for optimal growth and survival.


Fertilizing African Daisies regularly throughout the growing season (spring to fall) contributes to healthy growth and blooming. Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions to provide essential nutrients and promote vigorous growth.


Osteospermum thrives in well-drained, evenly moist soil and full sun exposure. They are drought-tolerant once established, but avoid over-watering to prevent root rot. African daisies grow best in cool to mildly warm conditions and should be germinated in a cool, well-lit area. Transplant seedlings outdoors after the last expected frost. Fertilize with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer throughout the growing season for healthy growth and blooming.

Osteospermum Species and Cultivars

africa daisy

Osteospermum is a versatile genus, with a collection of around 70 species ranging from subshrubs, herbaceous perennials, and annuals. They originate from southern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and are commonly known as African daisy or Osteospermum. The cultivated varieties often seen in gardens stem from O. ecklonis, O. jucundum, and several other species.

The market offers numerous hybrids and cultivars, catering to a diverse range of preferences. Some popular species and cultivars include O. fruticosum, O. jucundum, and O. ecklonis. The O. ecklonis species, for instance, was previously known as Dimorphotheca ecklonis. These plants belong to the Asteraceae family and thrive in USDA zones 9-10.

African daisies display daisy-like flowers that come in an extensive variety of colors, such as:

  • Rose
  • Purple
  • White
  • Pink
  • Peach
  • Bi-color
  • Yellow

One particularly intriguing variety is the Zion Copper Amethyst. Part of the Zion series, this African Daisy bush reaches approximately 20 inches in height, boasting a vibrant mix of pink, purple, and orange flowers. Its petals transition from golden-orange to magenta pink, and finally to dark purple nearing the flower center. This variety blooms prolifically, featuring dark floral discs.

African Daisies Leaf and Stem Structure

The leaves of Osteospermum plants are generally lance-shaped, measuring approximately 1 to 4 inches in length. The foliage is typically green, but some cultivars exhibit silver or grayish hues. Leaves are alternate on branches, with margins that can be either smooth or serrated depending on the species or cultivar.

The stems of Osteospermum are herbaceous and may vary in height, typically ranging from 1 to 3 feet. The plants are often classified as subshrubs or herbaceous perennials, depending on the variety and growing conditions.


Osteospermum leaves are lance-shaped, 1-4 inches long, green or grayish, and alternate on branches. Stems are herbaceous, varying in height from 1-3 feet. Osteospermum flowers are daisy-like, with a central disk and colorful petals that bloom from spring to fall.

Flower Characteristics


Osteospermum flowers are daisy-like in appearance, featuring a circular arrangement of petals surrounding a central disk. These petals, also known as ray florets, come in a wide range of colors such as white, pink, purple, and yellow. The central disk of the flower often displays a striking blue or dark purple hue, which is where the nickname “blue-eyed daisy” comes from.

These vibrant flowers usually bloom from spring through fall, with occasional pauses in blooming during hot summer months. The blooms tend to open in response to sunlight, closing at night or during cloudy weather. This unique characteristic adds to the charm and visual appeal of the Osteospermum plant.

Each petal resembles the curled tube-like bloom of a calla lily. These flowers grow in bunches or small shrubs and their leaves resemble a smooth-edged mint plant. Osteospermum is not a fragrant flower, so you may want to add other flowers to have some fragrance. The many fun varieties of Osteospermum pair well with simple pansies. You may also consider planting some cute Dianthus, for a wild-grass look. Another great option is Heliotrope with its larger leaves and bunches of blooms.


Osteospermum petals resemble calla lily blooms and grow in bunches or small shrubs. These non-fragrant flowers pair well with pansies, Dianthus, and Heliotrope for variety in color and fragrance.

Planting and Propagation


Growing Osteospermum can be easy if you follow a few guidelines. Make sure the soil is well-drained and that your flower bed is in full sun. Having dense soil or soil with little drainage can be a problem. It may contribute to mildew and mold developing within the root system. This can damage your entire Osteospermum garden. Be careful that you are not overwatering. Too much water may also contribute to the destruction of your plants. Osteospermum don’t tolerate frost well.

If frost occurs, make sure you cover outdoor plants. You will need to plant most Osteospermum every year since they are an annual and will not overwinter well. If you plan to grow from seed, be sure to start them at least six to eight weeks before the last frost. If purchasing established plants, plan to buy them in the early spring.


Grow Osteospermum in well-drained soil, full sun, and avoid overwatering. Plant annually and start seeds 6-8 weeks before last frost.

Sowing Seeds

Osteospermum can be propagated by sowing seeds in a sheltered place anytime in March or April. Alternatively, the seeds can be directly sown in the ground starting from the month of May. Ensure the soil is well-draining and provide a balanced fertilizer before planting. Regular fertilization and removal of spent blooms help osteospermums flourish.


Propagate by sowing seeds in well-draining soil with balanced fertilizer in March or April. Remove spent blooms for flourishing plants.


To propagate osteospermum using cuttings, select a non-flowering shoot and cut the tip off during spring or late summer. Use a sharp knife and cut a 45° angle about 3-6 inches from the tip. Strip the leaves from the cutting to make room for the new roots to form and dip it in hormone rooting powder. Use a rooting gel or hormone rooting powder containing a fungicide. This will prevent the end from rotting. Plant several cuttings in well-drained compost around the edge of a pot. This method helps ensure the survival of your favorite osteospermum varieties.

Next place the cuttings into a small container. Use a soilless potting mix or cutting compost. It’s best to create a small hole before placing the cuttings into their new home. Many people recommend using a paintbrush or pencil to create a hole deep enough that you can put the cutting in. This will prevent the growing agent from rubbing off. Keep cuttings in a warm and well-lit area, but not in direct sunlight. You may wish to cover cuttings with plastic to create a greenhouse effect. Be careful to not over-water or under-water. Transfer new plants when they have established roots. You’ll want to put them in separate containers. Add multi-purpose compost to keep them until spring.


Propagate by taking non-flowering shoot cuttings, using hormone rooting powder, and planting in well-drained compost. Keep warm and well-lit.


Once osteospermum seedlings reach a height of 2-3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm), transplant them into individual pots to grow until the last frost has passed. After the last frost, plant the seedlings in your garden, spacing them 12-18 inches (30.5 to 45.5 cm) apart. Provide regular watering to keep soil evenly moist, especially in the initial stages of growth. As they mature, water 1-2 inches per week to keep them healthy. These plants are drought-tolerant, so avoid over-watering.


Transplant seedlings after last frost, space 12-18 inches apart, and water regularly. Mature plants are drought-tolerant, avoid over-watering.

Pest and Disease Management


Osteospermum plants are generally resistant to many pests and diseases. However, taking preventive measures and timely management strategies can significantly minimize any potential issues that might occur.

Some common pests that can affect Osteospermum plants are:

  • Thrips – these tiny insects feed on the flowers’ pollen and the petals, causing damage to the buds and new growth. Beneficial insects present during the growing season can help keep their population in check.
  • Aphids – these small insects may feed on the sap and cause plant stress. If you suspect an aphid infestation, using a systemic insecticide can provide an effective solution.
  • Earwigs, slugs, and caterpillars – these pests may feed on the plant’s petals and leaves. Regular monitoring and prompt removal are essential for managing these pests.

As for diseases, Osteospermum plants may be susceptible to:

  • Powdery mildew – characterized by white powdery growth on leaves, this fungal disease can be controlled with appropriate fungicides and by improving air circulation around the plant.
  • Phytophthora and Verticillium – these soil-borne fungal diseases can cause root and stem rot. Ensuring proper drainage and avoiding overwatering can prevent these issues.
  • Downy mildew – this fungal disease can cause yellowing and spots on the leaves. Early detection and application of appropriate fungicides can help manage the problem.

Routine scouting and monitoring can prevent most issues associated with pests and diseases in Osteospermum plants. By following these management strategies, you can ensure the long-term health and success of your Osteospermum plants.


Osteospermum plants resist many pests and diseases. Common pests include thrips, aphids, earwigs, slugs, and caterpillars. Diseases: powdery mildew, Phytophthora, Verticillium, and downy mildew. Prevent issues with monitoring, proper drainage, avoiding overwatering, using insecticides or fungicides, and improving air circulation.

Pruning African Daisies

To promote blooming remove any spent blooms each day. This will ensure that the plants continue to flower for most of the summer. Pinch or cut the dead flowers off with pruning shears. Make sure you cut the entire flower off. Pinching only the petals off will not work. Pruning in this manner will help the plant produce more flowers. By cutting off the dead flowers, you are sending a signal. You want the plant to think that it needs to create more flowers so that it can spread more seeds.

Landscaping Uses

africa daisy

Osteospermum, is a versatile plant perfect for various landscaping purposes. Its vibrant colors and long blooming season make it an attractive option for gardens, borders, and container arrangements.

These daisy-like flowers work well as front-of-border plants in milder regions due to their compact growth and unique color variations. Their bushy habit, ranging from 8 to 12 inches in height and width, adds a pleasing texture to any garden design. Alternatively, osteospermums make excellent additions to mixed container arrangements, bringing life and color to patios or balconies.

When incorporating Osteospermum into your garden, consider the following suggestions:

  • Companion plants: Choose plants with similar growing requirements, such as drought-tolerant species, to create a harmonious garden environment.
  • Color coordination: Utilize the varied hues of Osteospermum to complement or contrast other colors in your garden design.
  • Placement: Position Osteospermum in areas that receive full sunlight for optimal growth and flowering performance.

Osteospermum’s low maintenance requirements, such as its minimal need for deadheading and its heat tolerance, make it an ideal choice for busy gardeners seeking beautiful, fuss-free blooms.


Osteospermum’s vibrant colors, long blooming season, and compact growth make it ideal for gardens, borders, and containers. Use drought-tolerant companion plants, coordinate colors, and ensure full sunlight for optimal growth. With low maintenance requirements, it’s an excellent choice for busy gardeners seeking fuss-free blooms.


Do African daisies come back every year?

African daisies (Osteospermum) can be annuals, perennials, or semi-evergreen shrubs, depending on the specific species and the climate in which they are grown.

In milder climates or warmer USDA zones (9-11), some African daisy species can grow as perennials and return year after year. However, in colder climates, they are often treated as annuals and need to be replanted each year, as they may not survive the winter months. To help them return each year in colder climates, you can try to overwinter them indoors or protect them with mulch or frost covers. Alternatively, you can take cuttings or collect seeds from the plants and grow new plants the following year.

Do African daisies spread?

frican daisies (Osteospermum) can spread and form a dense, low-growing mat or mound in the garden. They tend to spread through a combination of rooting stems, self-seeding, and occasionally through rhizomes (underground stems) depending on the species.

The extent to which they spread depends on factors such as the specific variety, growing conditions, and care they receive. Some varieties have a more compact growth habit and may not spread as aggressively as others. If you want to control their spread, you can prune or pinch back the plants, remove any unwanted seedlings, or use edging to contain them within a specific area. Additionally, deadheading spent flowers can help prevent excessive self-seeding.

How do you take care of African daisies in the winter?

To care for African daisies in winter, protect them from frost by moving potted plants indoors or into a greenhouse. For in-ground plants, cover with frost cloth or mulch to insulate roots. In colder climates, treat as annuals, collect seeds, or take cuttings to grow new plants next year. If overwintering indoors, provide bright light, water sparingly, and maintain cool temperatures (50-60°F). Prune back dead foliage and stems in early spring before new growth begins.

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