There are so many truly beautiful flowers today - indeed, there is plenty to choose from. One of the little-known, but truly beautiful, plants is African chamomile or, as it is more often called, gatsania. An exotic chamomile comes from Africa, but, despite this, it feels great in the flower beds of European countries.
In hot climates, gatsania is grown as a perennial, but it cannot withstand the harsh Russian winter, so here the flower exists as an annual plant.
Gatsania has a lot of advantages, the most important of which are: bright appearance and extreme resistance to external factors. This is enough to get interested in an African flower and try to grow it in your own garden.
You can learn about perennial gatsania, about the methods of planting it and the necessary care, with photos and descriptions, from this article. It will tell you how the exotic flower attracted domestic flower growers, and what you need to pay attention to when growing gatsania in the open field.
Perennial gazania (or, as it is called in other sources, gazania) appeared in Europe relatively recently.
Due to its African origin, the flower loves sunny areas and tolerates short periods of drought well.
Sudden cold snaps, low night temperatures and even slight frosts are not terrible for gatsaniya. All this allows you to freely grow African chamomile in flower beds next to local flowers and plants.
Attention! A low-growing compact gatsaniya is perfect not only for flower beds and borders, it is used to decorate alpine slides, other landscape compositions, and is grown in pots and flowerpots.
The description of the gazania flower is as follows:
- small bushes, the height of which rarely reaches 30 cm;
- almost complete absence of a stem - gatsania leaves simply come out of the rhizome (there are some varieties of chamomile with a stem up to 9 cm long);
- leaf plates of flowers can have different shapes, but they are always collected in neat rosettes;
- the leaves are dark green, rather dense, have a slight grayish tint;
- the bases of the leaves are pubescent, this allows gatsania to retain moisture at the roots, and in frost the same villi save the root system of the flower from hypothermia;
- inflorescences of African chamomile are single, large - with a diameter of about 7-9 cm;
- flower petals are pointed, dense;
- the colors of gatsania are very variegated and elegant, the flower can be painted in absolutely any shade: pink, sand, bronze, red or orange;
- a characteristic feature of gazania flowers are dark spots at the base of the petals, creating a contrasting pattern;
- the fruit of gatsania is a fleecy seed capsule with a small tuft;
- gazania bloom lasts almost the entire warm season - from early July to the first frost;
- the flower is very unpretentious, gatsaniya can be safely called that plant that can exist without human participation.
Important! Gatsaniya propagates by seeds, which the florist can collect in his own flower bed.
The African chamomile has one amazing ability: the flower petals open only in warm weather and in direct sunlight. If it is cloudy or cool outside, gatsania will roll its inflorescences into dense buds. The same thing happens every night.
That is why the flower should be planted only in a constantly illuminated place, otherwise there will be no gatsin bloom.
Sowing African chamomile
Perennial gatsania, as already mentioned, is propagated by seeds. The seeds of this flower can be bought or collected by yourself - they have excellent germination. It is necessary to sow gazania 1.5-2 months before the intended transplantation into the ground.
Early varieties of flowers are sown for seedlings in late February or early March. Gatsania with late flowering (blooms in late summer) is sown only in late March or early April.
To get strong gatsania seedlings, you need to follow the instructions:
- First you need to prepare the planting substrate. The best soil for African gatsania is considered to be a mixture of turf, humus, peat and sand, which are taken in equal parts. The acidity of the soil mixture must be neutral.
- Before sowing gatsania seeds, the soil should be disinfected. Any method is suitable: freezing, heating in the oven or watering with a solution of potassium permanganate. The main thing is that the soil for flowers is clean and does not contain pathogenic bacteria.
- Boxes and containers are selected for gating seedlings, they are filled with a substrate by about 70% of their volume.
- Now you need to water the soil with warm water and spread out the gatsania seeds, observing a checkerboard pattern. There should be about two centimeters of spacing between adjacent seeds in a row.
- Each flower seed is lightly pressed against the soil and the plantings are sprinkled with a thin layer of dry peat (about 5 mm).
- Now the top layer is slightly moistened with a spray bottle and the boxes are covered with foil.
- Gatsania seeds should be kept in a warm place with temperatures above 20 degrees until shoots begin to emerge. Until then, it is necessary to periodically moisten the soil using a spray bottle.
- When the seeds germinate in large quantities, the film is removed and the boxes with gatsania are placed in a brighter and cooler place.
Attention! Light is vital for Gatsania. In late winter or early spring, in most regions of Russia, there is not enough sunlight, therefore, African chamomile seedlings are supplemented with fluorescent lamps. If this is not done, the sprouts will become painful and overstretched.
Be sure to dive gatsania seedlings when the plants have three true leaves. It must be remembered that the root system of a rod-type flower - the seedlings should be transferred very carefully, trying not to damage the central root.
Immediately before planting in the ground, the flower seedlings are hardened, gradually reducing the temperature in the room (by opening a window or balcony).
Advice! To avoid picking and not injure fragile gating, it is recommended to grow its seedlings in peat cups or tablets. When the time comes, organic containers of flower seedlings are simply placed in the holes in a flower bed or in a flowerpot.
Transferring seedlings to the ground
It is necessary to plant gatsaniya in a flower bed when a stable warm temperature and good weather are established. Usually, this happens in mid-May (early varieties of flowers in the southern regions are planted in early May). At a later time, the seedlings may "burn" under the hot rays of the spring sun.
The soil for an African flower should be fertile and light. If the soil in the flowerbed is depleted, it is fertilized with humus, ash or mineral complexes before planting.
Planting gatsaniya is carried out according to the scheme of 20x20 or 25x25 cm. Tall varieties should be planted at large intervals. After planting, the flower bed is watered with warm water and covered with agrofibre to protect the gazania from the cold and sun. After a few days, the shelter from the flowers must be removed.
Attention! Adult gatsaniya is able to withstand a temperature drop of up to -7 degrees, but young seedlings do not like cold very much.
How to care for exotic flowers
Caring for gatsania is very simple: it is enough to periodically water the flowers and loosen the soil in the aisles. Step-by-step flower care should be as follows:
- Watering of gazania is necessary rare, but abundant. It's okay if the flower turns out to be overdried, excessive moisture is much more dangerous for African culture. Therefore, it is recommended to water a flower bed only during periods of prolonged drought.
- You need to fertilize the flower bed no more than once a month. For these purposes, it is most convenient to use complex mineral fertilizers, which are pre-diluted with water for irrigation. Suitable, for example, nitroammofosk, 25 grams of which should be dissolved in a bucket of water. Usually, the flowers have enough preliminary feeding, which was carried out before planting the seedlings.
- It is recommended to periodically loosen the soil between the bushes of flowers and remove weeds from the flower bed. To avoid constant weeding, you can use mulch: it will save gats from grass, and from drying out, and from pests. Sawdust is suitable as mulch; on alpine slides, stones, pebbles, rubble are allowed.
- In order for new buds to constantly form on the bushes, it is necessary to regularly remove wilted flowers. The drooping inflorescences are simply cut off with their hands and carried away from the flower bed.
- Diseases practically do not affect gating, but this flower is often threatened by gray rot. Rot appears due to improper care or an incorrectly selected landing site. The affected gatsania bushes should be pulled out and burned, and the remaining flowers should be treated with phytosporin or another antifungal agent.
- Of the pests, gatsaniya may be of interest to aphids, spider mites and snails. The first two insects need to be fought with special chemicals (Ditox, Akarin, for example), but the snails will have to be collected by hand.
Far from all regions of Russia, gatsania manages to go through its entire life cycle, so the seeds on the bushes may not ripen. But, if the summer turned out to be hot and dry, it is quite possible to wait for the "harvest" of African chamomile seeds.
Gazania seeds look the same as dandelion fluffs, so they fly away easily. To collect the seeds, the flower bud is wrapped in several layers of gauze, then plucked and dried.
Attention! Many hybrid varieties of gatsania are grown in Russia; it makes no sense to collect seeds from such flowers - they do not contain all the information and genes. Seed collection is carried out only from varietal flowers.
Perennial gatsania flowers are perfect for the Russian climate, because they are able to withstand not only heat and drought, but also slight frosts. In pots and flowerpots, gatsania can bloom almost all year round, if the plant is provided with suitable conditions (heat, light, watering).
The African variegated flower will be a great addition to any flower bed, it will help to decorate borders and ridges, it is often used to decorate alpine slides and other landscape objects. Gatsania harmonizes well with other low-growing flowers and plants, so it will not be difficult to create a bright composition with her participation.