Dimorphotheca pluvialis is an annual endemic to Namibia, Namaqualand and the south western Cape. During spring huge fields are covered with this bright white daisy, forming a dazzling mass. In their natural habitat the flowers are pollinated by small horseflies that get covered with pollen as they fly from one daisy to the next in search of tiny amounts of nectar.
These annuals are adapted to germinate, grow, flower and set seed during the rainy winter and to survive the long dry summer as seed. The seeds are interesting in that two different forms are produced. The ones we usually sow are flat, papery and fly away easily in the wind. They are formed in the center of the flower by the disk florets. The outer ray florets form seeds which looks like little thorns with a thick coats. Under favorable conditions the papery seed of the disk florets germinate in abundance, while the seeds of the ray florets have delayed germination to protect the species against unpredictable conditions in their arid environment.
The name ‘Osteospermum’ is exclusively used for the perennial forms. Both have in common that the flowers close at night. But the annuals or ‘Dimorphotheca’ are in many aspects very different to ‘Osteospermums’. The garden varieties are hybrids of D. aurantiaca. Their colour range is quite different: orange, cream, white, yellow and salmon-pink. Like all other annuals ‘Dimorphotheca’ can be grown from seed. The flowering period isn’t as long and frequent as that of Osteospermums and the plant isn’t as long lived. The plants aren’t suitable to propagate by cuttings. They are hardy annuals, so seeds can be sown in autumn as well as in spring. They dislike root disturbance, so it’s advisable to sow seeds where they are to flower. The plants need a well-drained sandy soil. Place them in full sun or the flowers will refuse to open. Dead-head regularly to prolong flowering.
The Symphony series are interspecific Dimorphotheca hybrids: Lemon Symphony, Cream Symphony, Peach Symphony, Orange Symphony, Banana Symphony, Milk Symphony and Melon Symphony. The colour range of the Symphony series is restricted to the colours of the Dimorphotheca species. The Symphonies can’t be grown from seed because they are practically sterile. This is why they are such profuse flowerers. Unfortunately, just like the other Dimorphotheca hybrids they tend to suffer from mildew and rot. They usually don’t have a high survival rate.
The orange varieties called Florence are also interspecific Dimorphotheca hybrids, but from another species called Dimorphotheca tragus.
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