Gazania (G. ringens) is a South African native plant grown for its brightly-coloured daisy flowers that light up the garden in the spring and summer months. The plant is a perennial often grown as an annual, and it responds well to overwintering indoors. Provide gazania with the ideal growing conditions, and you can expect vivid blooms many months of the year.
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Gazania requires a full-sun location to flower well. The plant tolerates a wide variety of soil types -- from sandy to clay -- providing the drainage is excellent. Gazania grows well in hot areas on the dry side, such as rock gardens, xeriscapes and on slopes. The plant also thrives in containers in well-drained potting soil. Place indoor-grown gazania in a bright southern or western window.
Watering and fertilising
Water gazania when the top 5 cm (2 inches) of soil has dried. The plant is fairly drought-tolerant and responds poorly to consistently wet soil. Feed gazania once in the spring with an all-purpose, well-balanced, organic or time-release fertiliser.
Encourage gazania to quickly re-bloom by pruning out spent flowers. As soon as flower heads fade, clip them out just above the point where a leaf attaches to the stem. New buds will form at this point. Pruning in this manner also encourages healthy, bushy foliar growth.
Propagate gazania by seed or through cuttings. Plant seeds in the garden after danger of frost has passed, or start seeds indoors in late winter six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Gazania seeds require darkness to germinate, so cover seed with a 3 mm (1/8 inch) layer of light potting soil or vermiculite. Take and root cuttings in August or September and overwinter indoors. Gazania requires germination and rooting temperatures of at least 15.6 to 18.3 degrees Celsius (60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit). Seedlings take seven to 21 days to emerge.
Gazania rarely falls victim to pests, but the plant is susceptible to diseases such as pythium root rot and downy mildew. Pythium causes root die back, wilting leaves and eventual plant death. Downy mildew symptoms include patches of white to grey fungal growths on the underside of leaves, which cause foliar deformity and leaf drop. Disease is most common when conditions are wet. Prevent infections by keeping gazania foliage dry. Prune out and dispose of infected plant parts and apply the appropriate fungicide.
Bring potted gazania indoors before the first fall frost. Provide bright light and only water when the top 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inches) of soil has dried. Place gazania outdoors in the spring after the danger of frost has passed.
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