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Flowering begins in early spring with an abundance of large colourful daisies lifting their heads to the sun. Dead-heading the spent flowers will help prolong the display, which lasts into autumn. This African daisy comes in many colours from cream to yellow, orange, pink and red often with contrasting tones in the centre or on the backs of the petals. On duller days and into the evening, the flowers tend to close.
African daisy cultivars have been bred from Arctotis sp., which are native to dry, stony places in southern Africa - they need good drainage, a sunny site and are drought tolerant.
Often treated as an annual, Arctotis can be repropagated by cuttings or fresh seed each year. In some areas of Dunedin they will be knocked back by hard frosts. In these microclimates, it is wise to take cuttings in autumn and grow them on under cover ready to replant in spring when they will spread to form a low clump.
Arctotis is readily available from seed suppliers or garden centres. There are several different cultivars flowering now on the rock garden at Dunedin Botanic Garden, including the bright yellow Arctotis `Sunset Gold', orange A. `Fireball', pink A. `Flamingo' and crimson A. `Midnight Red'.
Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Robyn Abernethy.