Daisy-like blooms as much as 4 inches across and a willingness to bloom profusely in all but the hottest weather have led to gazania's (Gazania rigens) widespread use as a garden ornamental. This South African native -- sometime called treasure flower -- produces spreading clumps of dandelion-like leaves with distinctive green surfaces and silvery undersides. Several other gazania species also bring their own special appeal to the landscape.
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Nicknamed treasure flower because of the jewellike colours of its blooms, Gazania rigens has 8-to-10-inch clumps of greyish-green to green, narrow-lobed leaves. Its petals may be solid or striped. Many cultivars have contrasting, brightly ringed centres. The blooms unfurl atop leafless, 6-to-10-inch stems. The flowers typically open on sunny mornings and close by dark. In cloudy weather, they remain closed. This drought-resistant plant blooms most profusely in mild spring and autumn temperatures. The Gazania rigens Aztec Queen features rusty-red-striped, golden-yellow petals surrounding black-ringed, golden-yellow centres. Fiesta Red's red-orange petals enclose black-ringed, warm brown centres.
Gazania rigens var. leucolaena Trailing Gazania, a South African native, forms a 4-to-6-inch blanket of green or silver leaves. A single plant can spread between 2 and 3 feet. Trailing Gazania's solid, golden-yellow daisies open just above its foliage from early summer until early fall. Butterflies and bees pay them regular visits. This multifunctional gazania works as a ground cover, edging, container or hanging basket plant. Like Gazania rigens, Trailing Gazania benefits from afternoon shade in hot summer climates.
One of the showstopping performers along the Namaqualand Flower Route, Gazania krebsiana Terracotta Gazania illuminates the western South African deserts with its brilliant colour following spring rain. Its 5-inch high clumps of narrow, feathery foliage have glossy, green surfaces and downy, white undersides. In cold weather, the leaves may take on a purplish cast. The leaf mounds, up to 8 inches across, contrast strikingly with Terracotta Gazania's deep-red-to-orange-, 2-to-2 1/2-inch daisies. The flower petals' deep-brown bases may be speckled with black or white. Terracotta daisy thrives in full sun and consistently dry soil, where it makes a soil-stabilising ground cover. It also works as a container plant.
Accustomed to life in its native South African mountain habitat, Gazania linearis Narrow-leaved Gazania handles winter temperatures approaching 10 below zero in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 6. Where winter temperatures remain above freezing, Narrow-leaved gazania is evergreen. It spreads to form a 3-to-4-inch mat of long-stemmed, narrow green leaves. Single plants reach 1 to 2 feet wide. This gazania's brown-ringed, yellow-orange daisies appear in spring and summer. It thrives in partial to full sun and dry, poor-to-average sandy or gravel loam soil.
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