Native to South Africa, these woody perennials are closely related to Dimorphotheca and often sold as such. Mounded or trailing in habit, they bear a profusion of daisylike flowers during mild weather; flowering decreases or halts altogether during long, hot stretches. Tend to be short lived in the South. Used as winter annuals in Florida. Narrow, oval leaves are 24 in. long. Flowers of most open only in sunlight.
Tolerate heat and drought but look better with moderate water. Give loose, fertile soil; good drainage is a must. Pinch out growing tips of young plants to induce bushiness; cut back old, sprawling branches to young side growth in late summer to midautumn. Mass along driveways and paths; or use in borders, rock gardens, containers. Types that spread by rooting stems are good on slopes. Not usually browsed by deer.
O. ecklonis. To 25 ft. tall, 24 ft. wide. Long stems bear 3-in. flowers centered in dark blue, with rays that are white above, lavender-blue beneath. Blooms in spring.
O. fruticosum. TRAILING AFRICAN DAISY. To 612 in. tall, spreading rapidly by trailing, rooting stems; will cover a 2- to 4-ft.-wide circle in a year. Deep lilac buds open to 2-in.-wide flowers with a dark purple center; rays are lilac above (fading nearly to white by second day), deeper lilac beneath. Blooms during the cool weather of spring, autumn, and (in mild-winter areas) winter. Essentially dormant in summer. Requires well-drained soil. Does well near the ocean. Use as ground cover or bank cover; if it gets too tall or weedy, mow or cut back in midsummer. Also a good choice planted at the top of a wall or in a hanging basket.
'Burgundy' has purple blooms at 1920 in. tall.
'Nairobi Purple' ('African Queen') bloom at 1820 in. tall.
'Silver Sparkler' has green leaves edged in creamy white; blossoms have a dark blue eye and rays that are silvery white above, pale blue beneath.
'Voltage' begins blooming bright yellow in late winter-early spring and keeps going as long as other osteospermums. Only 1016 in. tall, it spreads to 2 ft. or more.
'White Lightning' has a pure white flower with yellow center and bronze yellow back petals, beginning in early spring and growing into an 18-in mound.
'Whirlygig' ('Pinwheel') bears unusual white-and-blue flowers with rays that are white on upper surface, blue on back; each ray is pinched in the middle to reveal its blue underside, giving it the look of a spoon with a blue handle and a white bowl.
O. hybrids. These hybrids are an ever-increasing group of plants in an amazing array of colors.
3D series is all about the prominent tuft at the center of the flower, rather than the traditional tidy button. Colors are in shades from white to pink, and into purple. Flowers stay open on cloudy days.
Akila series are excellent selections grown from seeds, especially 'Akila White'. Plants are 1620 in. tall.
Crescendo series is a vigorous series, available in shades of yellows and pinks. Even at 1218 in. tall, it can overflow a large container, remaining in bloom from early spring until midsummer. It will tolerate the heat but stop blooming.
Flower Power series has outstanding diversity of color, as well as plant and flower forms. In addition to the white, pink, purple, yellow, and bronze color palette, there are compact plants, taller plants, traditional flower forms and slender-petaled spider flowers.
Passion Mix features compact growth to 1112 ft. high and about as wide, with 2- to 212-in. flowers in a variety of colors (pink, rose, purple, white), all with sky-blue centers. Blooms throughout the year, more heavily in spring and fall. Blossoms stay open in low light better than those of many non-hybrid selections.
Serenity series brings a wide color range, including offerings that have subtlety of pastel washes, as well as vibrant color, to compact mounded plants growing 1014 in. tall and wide.