Friday, May 22, 2015

My favorite plant this week: Gazania 'Sunbathers Otomi'

Gazanias again?!  Where did my current fixation with Gazanias come from?  Prior to this year, I didn't give any member of this genus a second glance.  Part of the current attraction is the plants' heat and drought tolerance.  I'm completely obsessed with California's drought and its impact on the future of my garden at the moment so any plant that tolerates a degree of drought gets extra points straight out of the gate.  But there's more to it than that.  The new hybrids aren't my grandmother's Gazanias. (Not that either of my grandmothers were gardeners.)  They're floriferous eye-catchers.   I previously featured Gazania hybrids 'Kiss Frosty White Flame' and 'New Day Yellow' as favorite plant choices.  The only strike against them in my book was that the flowers close when the sunlight dims.  The new-to-me 'Sunbathers' Gazanias offer the advantage of remaining open even when the sun goes down.*

I discovered Gazania 'Sunbathers Otomi' at Terra Sol Garden Center in Santa Barbara a couple of weeks ago.  I was immediately smitten and brought home 3 plants.

'Sunbathers Otomi' in bloom at Terra Sol


A few Angelonia augustifolia, over-wintered from last year but no longer looking their best, were uprooted to make space for the new plants.  The flower color picks up the pink of the Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink' and the bronze of Phormium 'Dark Delight' behind them.

The new plants in place in the front of the backyard border


The new flowers look more red than pink to me when they first open but, as the photo at the top of this post shows, the petal color fades as the flower ages.

The same flower opening in stages over 3 days

Flowers on the same plant at different stages of bloom


The semi-double flowers have a crested center that becomes more bronze as the flower matures.  They're approximately 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter when fully open.  The plants have the attractive, strappy gray-green foliage of my other Gazanias.  They reportedly grow about 8 inches (20 cm) tall and wide.   Many growers classify them as half-hardy annuals but they should be short-lived perennials in my climate.  In addition to taking heat in stride, they're said to tolerate light frosts.



For other gardeners' favorite plants, check out Loree's monthly favorites wrap-up at danger garden next Friday.

*Update: Today was mostly cloudy and I noticed that, although the Gazania 'Sunbathers Otomi' flowers don't entirely close, the outer petals do curl around the flower's crested center.


All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

17 comments:

  1. I've become obsessed with Arctotis, the silver-leaved cousins of gazanias. They're equally heat- and drought-resistant. In fact, all South African daisies are superbly suited for California gardens and should be used much more widely, in my opinion.

    After reading your post, I'll definitely look for some of these newer gazania introductions!

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    1. I agree Gerhard. Arctotis, Gazania, and Osteospermum, all commonly referred to as African daisies, so deserve more attention than they've received in the past. All have a home in my garden. Gazanias and Osteospermum, in particular, seem to be popular with hybridizers of late.

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    2. Found the 'Sunbathers' series at our local Ace Hardware. Bought five: 2x 'Otomi', 2x 'Tikal' and 1x 'Totonaca'. $3.99 each. I'm happy!

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  2. How could you not like them when they perform so well Kris, great plant!

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    1. It is, although I did notice that on-line sources, as well as my own post, oversold the notion that these flowers remain open as light fades. It's more correct to say that they remain partially open in low light - I noted today's finding in an addendum at the bottom of my post.

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  3. The dusky colours of the arctosis varieties you have chosen are fantastic. They all look like warm summer sunsets and are just beautiful!

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    1. The 'Sunbathers' Gazanias are very interesting, Matt, and come in a range of colors. Although 'Sunbathers Otomi' is the only one I've found in garden centers thus far, I noticed that seed vendors offer the series in a range of colors.

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  4. Very pretty! I like the color changes as it ages.

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    1. I was impressed by that too, Deb. It's a fairly dramatic color change.

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  5. You'll forgive me I hope if the words Kris and Gazania become synonymous in my mind? No reason not to love a plant that gives so much!

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    1. I accept that. There are worse associations, I'm sure.

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  6. Yes, I'm looking at Gazanias myself--the new ones seem quite good. I'm enjoying the Arctotis, that's for sure.

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    1. I dropped in at Roger's today and found they were carrying a gold 'Sunbathers' Gazania. I guess the growers are just hitting their stride in SoCal.

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  7. As they say in fashion, that's a lot of look! It is always more fun when a bloom shifts colors and shapes as it opens and eventually fades. Perhaps you'll supplement your gazanias with something that waits for evenings and/or low light to bloom - like mirabilis jalapa? Very heat and drought tolerant, it could provide a lovely backdrop to your sunshine lovers.

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    1. Mirabilis jalapa! I grew those years back when I lived in Santa Monica. I tried Mirablis multiflora here early on but it promptly upped and died on me, probably because I planted it in the relatively inhospitable back slope. I should just get a packet of seeds and try again (in fall, when the rains return).

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  8. I wasn't sure about this one until I saw the last two pictures with the bronzy coloring. I love that. I've always liked the bicolored gazanias like Kiss Frosty White Flame, and I wish they were hardy here. Gazania linearis 'Colorado Gold' just doesn't do it for me, though Gazania krebsiana has some promise, especially the orange and red forms.

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    1. 'White Flame' is still my most favorite Gazania as it does such a great job at knitting other plants together in my garden. I haven't grown G. krebsiana but its cold-hardy status should make it a good choice for a trial in your garden.

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