Q: What is this plant? It grows easily in Yuba City – and I want more.
Jennifer Jelavich, Yuba City
This easy-care ground cover looks familiar to anyone who drives California interstates. It’s trailing African daisy (Osteospermum fruticosum), also known as “freeway daisy.”
A native of South Africa, this quick-growing plant is well suited for covering large open areas of level or sloping ground – such as highway embankments.
In the home landscape, African daisy is practically bulletproof for most gardeners. It requires little attention or care. It’s rarely invaded by pests or diseases.
This ground cover grows best in rich soil but will tolerate less than ideal ground as long as it has full sun. Another plus: Established plants (after the first year) tolerate drought. They need only weekly irrigation.
African daisy spreads rapidly by means of long, trailing stems that root where they touch the ground. This creates an attractive carpet about 18 inches high; in spring, the whole carpet will be covered with 3-inch daisylike blooms.
With its trailing habit, this plant also can be grown at the top of a retaining wall or container, where it can hang down gracefully.
Basic white, purple and lavender are the most common shades of Osteospermum, but new hybrids have broadened its spectrum and overall look. Hybrids include soft shades of yellow, pink, apricot, red and orange as well as unusual petal shapes (some look like little spoons). New “double” varieties have twice as many petals and look more like chrysanthemums, but they’re still freeway daisies.
Questions are answered by master gardeners at the UC Cooperative Extension services in Sacramento and Placer counties. Send questions to Garden Detective, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. Send email to email@example.com. Please put “Garden Detective” in the subject field and include your postal address. To contact UC Extension directly, call:
Sacramento: (916) 875-6913; 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday
Amador: (209) 223-6838;
10 a.m.-noon Monday through Thursday; email ceamador. ucdavis.edu
Butte: (530) 538-7201;
8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. weekdays
Colusa: (530) 458-0570; 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays; website: cecolusa.ucanr.edu
El Dorado: (530) 621-5512; 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday-Friday
Placer: (530) 889-7388;
9 a.m.-noon on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays or leave a message and calls will be returned; website: http://pcmg.ucanr.org/Got_Questions//
Nevada: (530) 273-0919;
9 a.m.-noon Tuesdays through Thursday or leave a message
Shasta, Tehama, Trinity: (530) 225-4605
Solano: (707) 784-1322; leave a message and calls will be returned
Sutter, Yuba: (530) 822-7515; 9 a.m.-noon Mondays and Tuesdays and 1-4 p.m. Thursdays
Yolo: (530) 666-8737;
9-11 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, or leave a message and calls will be returned
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