6:05 AM PDT, March 16, 2013
Question from reader Vince Capati of Torrance: I love the color and variety of gazanias, and they seem to work well in our climate as long as they're not over-watered. However, I have trouble keeping them in bloom. I would love any advice on how to keep these plants flowering and from looking like sad weeds.
Answer from Alan Uchida, one of our SoCal Garden Clinic panelists and a third-generation nurseryman at Bellefontaine Nursery in Pasadena:
Gazanias, bold perennial bedding plants native to South Africa, are one of my favorites for the long, hot days of summer. The flowers close at night, which makes them unusual. More important, gazanias are disease resistant, insect proof and water-wise — a good choice for Southern California gardens.
Kiss and Tell, a common variety of Gazania splendens, was bred for a mixture of great colors and for its compact growth. Gazanias like these are best deadheaded as soon as you have a chance. Removing spent flowers will help the plants devote more energy to keeping new blooms alive. Super Bloom fertilizers are ideal for these plants.
The old-fashioned trailing and clumping varieties are much more carefree. Some varieties, such as Aztec Orange, Fiesta Red and Copper King, are hearty enough to be planted along highways. South Pasadena once used gazanias to spell out the city's name along the northbound 110 Freeway. They were the workhorse plants of the '70s and '80s.
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