If you’ve ever noticed the banner at the top of this blog you would have seen my Montezuma gazanias. Without doubt, they would have to be one of my favourite plants in the gardens, for many reasons but mainly due to their cheery flower. The flowers open as they sense the sun moving across the sky and seem to follow them until it finally drops at dusk. Then they close up as if going to sleep and don’t arouse again until they catch a glimpse of the first sun’s rays.
I remember disliking gazania’s with a passion as I was growing up. They would often be the plants that people would discard on vacant blocks or allow to grow along the dead-side of corner blocks. It is due to these nuisance gardeners that many varieties of gazania have now been declared weeds. However, in the last couple of years I have started to take a new fondness to them as I have since seen them used in some wonderful settings.
The flowers are daisy-like and sport many different shades from yellows, whites, oranges and dark reds. Some, like my Montezuma’s, are multi-coloured and offer another dimension to the garden.
It’s no surprise that gazania flowers are daisy-like as they are part of the Asteracae family, a family that covers a myriad of plants including daisies, coreopsis and even lettuce. This family is identified by its central flowerhead and ligules (strappy florets – the petals!).
Gazania rigens is the most common cultivar of all the gazanias and there are numerous hybrids produced which make identification sometimes difficult. Most gardeners choose them on their flower colour as they all have similar growing habits.
The gazania flower is native to South Africa and grows easily in full sun, but can also do well in part-shade so long as they see a majority of sun during the day. Caring for these plants is very easy as they require very little in the way of watering or fertilising and they don’t attract many pests. This is what makes gazanias so popular with gardeners, especially xersicape gardeners. They are one of the ultimate waterwise plants and they flower proficiently.
How to propagate gazanias
If you plan to propagate gazanias there are three possible ways to do this. Firstly, through collecting and planting their seeds. This is easy to do by shaking the dried flowers onto a sheet of white paper and separating the seeds from the spent flowerhead. Sow these into seedling trays and plant out in early spring.
The second method is through soft tip cuttings taken from the plant. If you decide to use this method then make sure you use plant material that hasn’t already started producing a flower.
The third and final method is the one I think is by far the most successful. This is through clump division taken by dividing the plants where they form clumps. Providing you divide the gazanias well you should find that this method has much more success and will provide plants far quicker than the other two methods.
Care for your gazania plants
Gazanias don’t require much fertiliser and should only be fed probably once per year and this should be at the start of spring. Use a slow release fertiliser and don’t be too heavy handed with it.
Gazanias appreciate being deadheaded and it tidies them up as well. Spent gazania flowers are great to discard into the compost pile as well.
Water gazania’s no more than once per week and plant them in a sandy soil.