A member of the composite or daisy family, cape marigolds are sometimes called Osteospermum, depending on which botanist classified closely related plants. Also called African daisy and star-of-the-veldt, they are not closely related to true marigolds.
Description of cape marigold: Cape marigolds grow up to 1 foot tall, in a loose mound heavily covered with flowers during cool seasons or in cool climates. Flowers are 3 to 4 inches in size in yellow, white, salmon, or rose. The reverse sides of the petals are colored in shades of blue or lavender.
Growing cape marigold: African daisies thrive in light, sandy soil and will tolerate drought. They prefer cool, dry weather in full sun in coastal or mountain climates. They turn scraggly in hot, humid parts of the country during summer. In such locations, plant them as soon as the ground can be worked for cool season beauty, replacing them later with heat-tolerant plants. They flower best when temperatures are 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They are good winter annuals (actually semi-hardy perennials) in areas with only a few degrees of frost (Zones 8 to 10). Space 8 to 12 inches apart. Do not fertilize.
Propagating cape marigold: By seed or by cuttings. Sow outdoors in spring after the last frost or start indoors 6 to 8 weeks in advance of planting out. Seeds germinate in 10 to 15 days at 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Uses for cape marigold: Tuck cape marigolds into chinks of rock walls or plant them in sunny rock gardens. Use them for large drifts of color through borders and beds. Plant them at the edges of containers. Cape Marigolds combine well with other container plants. They're good cut flowers, too.
Cape marigold related varieties: Starshine bears flowers of pink, rose, carmine, and white. Tetra Pole Star is a white variety with violet centers. Tetra Goliath is an orange-flowered variety with unusually large blooms. Out of Africa contains orange, yellow, and white.
Scientific name of cape marigold: Dimorphotheca hybrids