Great Early-in-the-Season Annuals
by Jacki Hein, CCNP
Jun 02, 2010 | 750 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Yellow daisy osteospurmum. (Courtesy photo)
Yellow daisy osteospurmum. (Courtesy photo)
Osteospermum or Diascia.

Sounds like a foreign language!

Both of these flowers come from another country – South Africa – but are still, surprisingly, just the thing to plant early in the season while temperatures are still cool.

“Osteos,” or African Sun Daisies as they’re commonly called, produce many astoundingly colorful daisy flowers. You’ve probably seen them – white, pink, lavender, deep purple, reddish, and the very popular yellows or oranges. They often have a bluish center and make great combinations with lavender or purple verbenas in pots.

Diascias are members of the snapdragon family, but are more of a low-growing, mounding or cascading plant. With the common name “Twinspur,” they have two small petals in their flowers that project like spurs. Their flower colors include white, pastels, bright oranges and reds to lavender and purple, and are often so prolific that the plant itself can no longer be seen.

Osteos and Diascias both do best in sunny locations and excel in containers. While Osteos are upright, reaching 12-18” in height, Diascias are low (6-12”) and often trailing which makes them a great “spiller” to cascade over edges. Neither plant is bothered much by either insects or disease. Regular fertilizer helps keep plants looking their best, but if they become scraggly by late season, they’ll rebound beautifully if cut back.

Either of these plants produce a good show of flowers early in the season, while temperatures are cool, and will continue to bloom into the fall after light frosts take out many of our other annuals. Plant them together in a pot, adding some vinca and maybe a spike. Voila! You have color and cold tolerance all at once!

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