The Gazania, also known as the treasure flower for its vivid color in warm, treasure-tones, are guaranteed to bring a huge wealth of color into any garden.
In hotter climates, these plants can grow as beautiful weeds with very little trouble at all, or become completely invasive and take over, if they are not managed properly.
While these are tender evergreen perennials, they are often grown as annuals in colder parts of the world to provide color in summer, but they’ll still be very easy to grow, and they will thrive throughout the summer months.
You can also bring them indoors to overwinter them, if you prefer.
Wherever you happen to live, gazanias are one of the most vibrant daisy-like flowers that you can use to introduce warm tones into your planting scheme.
They also make great bedding or container plants, attracting a huge number of pollinators.
What Are Gazanias?
Gazanias are striking flowers which come from South Africa. Most come in the brightest yellow, red, and orange tones you can imagine, and they flower all summer long.
Quite a few gardeners use them not only to brighten up their gardens, but also to attract hoverflies, which eat aphids.
It also helps that gazanias have an extended blooming period, some of which will flower from the start of summer all the way through until the temperatures drop in autumn.
These enigmatic and uplifting flowers are in a whole genus by themselves, and in ornamental terms, they are usually used as ground cover plants, where they can withstand long periods of drought, and thrive in well-draining, rocky, or poor soil.
In parts of South Australia, New Zealand, and the Mediterranean, gazanias have become naturalized, and have been classified as a weed in these areas, just showing you exactly how vigorous these plants are.
So it is worth checking that gazanias aren’t classified as invasive in your area, before you go planting some and then get into trouble!
In colder climates, gazanias are the perfect, long-flowering annual, and they are not considered invasive, as they don’t live past the first frosts of autumn to be a nuisance. In these places, they die back completely, and don’t come up again the following year.
In which case, you’ll need to sow some more seeds, or take cuttings before they die back and overwinter them, to ensure more gazanias for the following year.
While gazanias are part of the daisy family, Asteraceae, and one of their common names is the African daisy, this can get them confused with Osteospermum, (see also Osteospermum Care Guide) which is a completely different plant.
If in doubt, refer to a plant by its scientific name, (often Latin or Greek in origin) so there is no confusion.
You can recognize a gazania by their large central eyes which consist of yellow florets, surrounded by a ray of pointed petals in bright colors, such as red, orange, yellow, but they may also be white, pink, green, or a combination of these.
How to Grow Gazanias
The first thing you have to ask yourself, is if you’d like to grow gazanias from seed, and start from the very beginning, or if you’d like to buy them as plug plants, or plants which are just about to flower.
The choice is yours, and there are upsides and drawbacks to both.
Growing gazanias from seed means that it’s much more satisfying when these gorgeous plants bloom, when you can enjoy them all the more, knowing that you helped that plant thrive.
It’s also a lot cheaper, rather than buying the adult plants. You can sow as many seeds as you like, and have a sea of vibrant color come summer.
But it does take time, and a lot of compost, and having the time, the space, and the motivation to pot them on when they need it, and keeping an eye on the water levels before these plants are established in their final pots or position.
Growing gazanias as plug plants, or adult plants, skips this, as the hard work is done for you, but you will pay significantly more per plant.
Another thing to consider is that you may not get the variety or the color you’re after as readily available as when you grow them from seed.
Starting Gazanias from Seed
Gazanias are easy to grow from seed. Just make sure you start them off somewhere inside which is warm and sunny.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do this in a greenhouse, as a sunny windowsill will do the trick.
Sow them in very early spring to give them enough time to grow. You only need to do this in a shallow tray, or you can use a tray for seedlings which has individual compartments.
You won’t need a lot of soil, as you’re only wanting to start them off. You can transplant them when they get bigger.
Make sure to cover the tray with something clear, whether that’s a clear lid, a propagator lid, or a plastic bag, something that will let you keep the soil moist while still having a good amount of airflow.
This will speed up the germination process, while also giving the seedlings a protected environment in which to thrive.
Once the seedlings get at least two inches tall, or they outgrow their original containers, you can plant them into something a little bigger, until they’re big enough to go outside.
Gazanias will thrive anywhere which gets the most sun possible, and the least amount of wind.
You can plant them in containers or in the ground, or both. Make sure they get plenty of light, and that they are protected from cold temperatures.
Wherever you choose to plant them, you will need to ensure that the soil can drain freely, as gazanias have adapted to rocky or dry soil with excellent drainage, so you’ll need to provide them with this, otherwise they will die.
Once you’ve planted the gazanias, making sure that they sit well in the soil, not being proud on the surface or sitting too deep in the soil, water them thoroughly.
Keep an eye on them for a while, as you’ll need to keep watering them while they establish themselves, but make sure to check that they need it.
How to Make Gazanias Thrive
The hardest task you’ll have when caring for gazanias is making sure they settle into the soil well.
This isn’t saying much, in fact, they are very low maintenance plants, and all you’ll need to make sure is that they have enough water during the first few weeks of planting them.
That said, this only works if you get their requirements right to begin with. There’s not a lot that gazanias will demand of you, but get the growing conditions right, and you’ll be treated to the most beautiful displays of color.
Sunlight and Soil Requirements
Gazanias are essentially sun worshipers. Give them as much sunlight as you can, for as long as you can, and you’ll get the most flowers possible out of these beautiful plants.
You can, of course, put them somewhere else which doesn’t get as much sunlight, but the flowers you’ll get won’t be as vibrant, and you won’t get as many. They may also grow leggy rather than staying compact, attempting to reach more light.
When it comes to getting the soil right, it needs to be well-draining. Preferably sandy soil if you have it, or otherwise poor-quality which doesn’t have many nutrients.
You can improve the drainage by adding a layer of grit into the hole before you add the plants.
Watering and Feeding Gazanias
Once established, gazanias won’t need you to water them. Even if you live somewhere hot and dry.
After all, these are the conditions they expect, the ones they have adapted to over countless years, and they will thrive. The problem may be that you might get too much rainfall, in which case, it may be worth protecting them by putting them near much larger plants.
If you keep them indoors over winter, you will need to give them water every so often, just make sure that the soil is very dry before you do.
Depending on the conditions inside your house, this may be a week or up to a fortnight between watering.
When it comes to fertilizing gazanias, you can go ahead and feed them in their flowering season to sustain the production of blooms, using a potash-rich feed every two weeks.
Don’t feed them any more than this, otherwise you risk putting too much salt into the soil, and this is a pain to try and flush. It can also cause irregular growth.
Should You Prune Gazanias?
It is beneficial to take off any spent gazania flowers, but it is not necessary. It will keep your plants looking neat, while also allowing that extra energy to go into further flower production.
It also prevents disease, as letting dead flowers sit on the surface of the soil is a good way to invite rot or fungal infections.
If you’re planning on growing gazanias as perennial plants, you can cut them back, leaving a third of the original growth once it has finished flowering.
Gazania Cultivars You Should Try Growing Yourself
Gazania ‘Aztec Queen’
‘Aztec Queen’ is a clump-forming type of gazania, producing flowers with multitudes of color, usually white or yellow with a bi-color feature in the center of each petal, either orange or pink.
The foliage is a rich green when you look at it from above, and they are silvery and hairy on the undersides of the leaves.
Gazania ‘Big Kiss White Flame’
‘Big Kiss White Flame’ gazanias produce huge flowers, in white with pink stripes, these bright petals crowding around a sunny-yellow eye.
The blooms themselves can reach an impressive 12cm in diameter, and these are perfect for injecting different colors into your containers or borders.
Like all gazanias, ‘Big Kiss White Flame’ attracts plenty of pollinators, especially hoverflies, which help kill aphids.
‘Cookei’ is a beautiful and unusual gazania, featuring dark orange flowers that can reach a diameter of 7cm.
Near the center of the petals, the color deepens into an olive green, surrounding the central yellow and red eye.
These colors look fantastic against the silvery green leaves, making a great contrast.
Gazania ‘Copper King’
One of the most vivid gazanias available, ‘Copper King’ produces large flowers with rich orange, nearly crimson flowers, featuring yellow or orange stripes in the middle of each petal.
‘Copper King’ grows in mounds, with grayish green foliage peeking out from under the numerous flower heads.
As you might guess from the name, this variety of gazania is slightly less vibrant than others.
If you prefer flowers with a more subtle color, ‘Creamsicle’ is perfect, as it features blooms which are available in shades of cream, brilliant white, or a hint of yellow.
They are also a great choice if you want to offset and show off more pigmented and showy flowers, such as gazanias in more vibrant tones, or other flowers entirely such as gerberas, helianthus or dahlias.
‘Creamsicle’ gazanias are also noticeably smaller than other types of gazanias, but their smaller form only helps outline their unusual and beautiful shape.
Usually sold as a mixture of colors, ‘Daybreak’ is a cultivar that provides a wealth of color into any garden, these hues reminiscent of a sunrise, in warm pink, gold, red, and yellow.
This particular variety will withstand some wind, making them perfect for coastal or otherwise exposed garden locations.
Gazania ‘Fiesta Red’
Most gazanias have a clumping habit, but ‘Fiesta Red’ features long trailing stems, and this variety produces vibrant, deep red flowers, and the ends of the petals look as though someone has dipped them in a bright orange.
Like all gazanias, ‘Fiesta Red’ needs as much sunlight as you can give them, and soil which drains well, to stop them from rotting.
Gazania ‘Kiss Gold’
One of the earliest flowering gazanias, ‘Kiss Gold’ produces vivid yellow blooms in the early summer.
It’s particularly suitable for gardens that may not get a huge amount of direct sunlight, as the blooms will still open on dull days which have some light, unlike other sun-hungry varieties where their flowers will stay shut.
Gazania ‘Sunbather’s Sunset’
‘Sunbather’s Sunset’ lives up to its name, not just because of its beautifully vivid colors, but because the flowers of this particular cultivar stay open for a few hours longer than most.
Most gazania flowers will close as soon as they sense the sun setting, or when it gets cold. ‘Sunbather’s Sunset’ won’t close as quickly.
These gazanias come in a deep crimson or dark orange.
Gazania ‘Talent Mix’
Most ‘Talent’ gazanias are sold as a mixture of colors, and usually these involve bi-colored blooms in various shades of red, white, yellow, and orange.
What is more unusual is that this particular variety features silvery leaves, instead of the usual deep green.
It makes a great contrast, drawing your attention to both features of the plant, instead of just the flowers. This unusual feature also comes into its own when the flowers have closed, whether that’s because the sun has set, or it has gotten too cold for the flowers.
‘Talent’ gazanias don’t get as tall as other varieties, often reaching about 25cm at a maximum.
While you might think that the flowers would be smaller as a result of the plant being more compact, this is not the case. ‘Talent’ gazania blooms still reach the average diameter of other varieties.
Gazania ‘Tiger Stripe’
One of the most-well known varieties of gazania, ‘Tiger Stripe’ produces some of the most elaborate flowers, in a rich, warm palette of yellows, oranges, and reds.
These gorgeous flowers are usually bi-colored, too. Yellow ‘Tiger Stripe’ blooms feature orange or red stripes in the middle of the petals, only adding to their uplifting feel.
While most gazanias are perennials in zones 9 through to 11, ‘Tiger Stripe’ gazanias will survive in zone 8 and up.
Gazania rigens ‘Variegata’
This particular gazania features bright yellow or orange flowers, each petal having a black spot near the center of the flower.
The leaves themselves are variegated, their narrow form highlighted in light tones such as white and yellow, and a rich green in the center of each leaf.
It’s perfect for coastal or gravel gardens, and like all gazanias, it thrives in as much sunlight as possible.