The true blue daisy is one of the few felicias with entirely blue
daisy flowers, in contrast to the others with yellow centres surrounded
by blue/purple or white 'petals'. This pretty bushy annual is one
of the spring flowers of the southwestern Cape.
heterophylla is an annual herb of 0.3 x 0.3 m. The oblanceolate
leaves are arranged alternately on the stem, 10-50 mm long, hairy,
sometimes with 3 main nerves in the broader leaves. The margins
are smooth or rarely obscurely toothed. The blue flowerheads consisting
of blue ray and disc florets, are borne singly on long peduncles
during spring (August-October). The 'seeds' (cypselas) are small,
4.5 x 2 mm, elliptic or obovate, yellowish brown and hairy. They
are topped with a tuft of white hairs (pappus hairs) which helps
with wind dispersal.
Felicia heterophylla is a Cape endemic, occurring naturally
in the southwestern Cape from Clanwilliam to Cape Town. It is usually
found on sandy flats and slopes.
It is unclear why the specific epithet of heterophylla, meaning
different leaves, was chosen for this species. Some of the leaves
might be broader than the others and then have 3 main veins. The
leaf margins of some leaves are toothed. This might have given rise
to the description of a difference in the leaves, but it is not
always clear in every specimen.
Growing Felicia heterophylla
Felicia heterophylla in full sun so that the flowers can
open to their full potential. It is fast-growing, half-hardy and
needs moderate water. Mass plants for a splash of blue or mix them
with white and yellow Namaqualand daisies (Dimorphotheca
pluvialis and D.
sinuata) for some Namaqualand splendour in your own garden!
Use as an edging plant along an informal border. This plant is ideal
as a temporary filler for any bare, sunny area.
Propagate from seed sown in early March (autumn in the southern
hemisphere). Seed is best sown in a seed bed or seedtray and transplanted
to a sheltered position in the garden whilst the seedlings are still
fairly small. Germination takes place within one week.
These plants come from a winter rainfall area, so you will need
to water if your garden does not receive rain at this time. The
plants prefer light, well-drained soil enriched with compost.
In areas with very cold winters, seeds can be sown in seedtrays
in a glasshouse and the young plants transferred to the garden when
the weather warms in early summer.
Other felicias you might like to try in your garden include Felicia
echinata and Felicia elongata.
Newly described Felicia josephinae
may also become available.
- Goldblatt, P. & Manning,,J. 2000. Cape Plants. Strelitzia
9. NBI,. Pretoria.
- Grau, J. 1973. Revision der Gattung Felicia (Asteraceae).
Mitteilungen der Botanischen Staatssammlung, München
- Herman, P.P.J. & Joffe, P. 2003. Brighten your garden
with South African daisies. Poster presented at the First
International Meeting of DEEP ACHENE: The Compositae Alliance,
January 2003, Pretoria.
- Joffe, P. 1993. The gardener's guide to South African plants.
Tafelberg, Cape Town.
National Herbarium, Pretoria
With additions by Yvonne Reynolds