spring this mauve annual daisy flowers in abundance along the west
and south coast of the Cape. The plants vary considerably in height
and flower colour, even those growing in close proximity. At Kirstenbosch
they are bushy annuals about 60 cm high. The leaves are soft and
curly, sometimes almost succulent. The flowers grouped together
at the top of the stem make a beautiful display when flowering in
mass with colours varying from white to dark mauve and bright pink.
The centres of the daisies are bright yellow, full with pollen and
nectar which attracts bees and beetles. Once pollinated the flower
heads turn into fluffy white balls, ready for the wind to disperse
Senecio elegans may be a bit weedy by some gardeners
standards, but planted densely in large groups they offer a great
reward for very little effort. Adapted to the coast and summer drought
they do well in disturbed, sandy and windy areas. The dry summers
they survive as seed and germinate freely in autumn with the start
of the winter rains.
How to grow Senecio elegans
To grow in a garden the seed must be sown in autumn in areas with
a winter rainfall. In summer rainfall areas the plants will need
watering in winter, or the seed could be sown in early spring once
the danger of frost has passed. Sow in seed trays or directly in
the open ground. A sunny position in well-drained soil is ideal.
The seed germinates within a week or two and are easy to transplant
about 2 months later, or as soon as the seedlings are big enough
to handle. For a striking show Senecio elegans can be planted
in a mix with the orange or yellow annual Ursinia
cakilefolia or Oncosiphon grandiflora, which grow
to the same height. Senecio elegans is sometimes confused
with Senecio glastifolius,
a tall perennial species with rougher leaves, which also makes an
attractive garden plant..
Author: Liesl van der Walt