The word “daisy” is nearly synonymous with “flower.” If anyone wants to sketch a quick flower, it often looks like a daisy. “Daisy” is a category for shape in my flower identification guide. The common Shasta daisy is like the white shirt of bouquets – it sets off the rest of the flowers, but gets little credit for its own particular beauty. The cape daisy is similarly nonchalant, until you look it full in the bloom.
It has the basic circular spray of white petals, except that the center of the petals is decorated with a dark variegated belt. This belt is not standardized. Some of my flowers look more southwestern to me. Others remind me of antique tapestry. Or maybe it is a function of the mood I’m in. Either way, they are fun to look at. (click on any photo to enlarge)
When I looked for seed sources online, it seemed the pattern and colors of the belt varied by seed company. The seed I bought grew with more orange and purple in the belt. Another website’s photos of the bloom showed more of a blue and overall darker belt.
In my 1990 Better Homes and Gardens New Garden Book (there is a 2005 edition available: Better Homes and Gardens New Garden Book, 3rd Edition), a cape daisy is called “Dimorphotheca,” but the labeled photo looks to me more like what local garden nurseries and online catalogs call an African daisy (Osteospermum). Osteospermum is mentioned in another section, but no photo is shown. The Latin name that I am seeing online, that matches the blooms that I have, is “Venidium Fastuosum.” Seems like Latin names are more reliable in this case.
The foliage of the plant that I have grown is similar to that of the African daisy. That is, it is somewhat silver to grey green. It is also a touch fuzzy and rather pliable. The cape daisy leaves are more notched. The stems are still long and strong enough to use as a cut flower for some vases. It would be the kind of stem that should be put in the vase before stiffer stems, though.
I find the bud of the cape daisy to be eye-catching in its own right. All of the characteristics of the foliage show themselves off in the tight package. I half expect a little face to be presented because it has so much personality.
This year, I will try to save my own cape daisy seeds. The plants have not self sown at all that I have seen. With the first flowers already fading, and impending hot dry weather, I should have an opportunity to try soon. I will try to let you know how that goes!