Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Arctotis venusta

Near the rudbeckia mentioned in the previous post, a few plants of Arctotis venusta did very well, despite a hot and dry summer. This annual species is native to dry areas of South Africa and Namibia, and its range includes mostly summer rainfall areas. I started the seeds indoors and set the plants in the garden in early summer, and they really took off in August and September. Unlike many Asteraceae, it appears that this species is self fertile, though not all seeds produced are fertile--fertile seeds are distinctly larger than the smaller infertile ones, when one drops them onto a hard surface their is a slightly different sound than with infertile seeds, which are all seed coat with nothing inside. The rather large flowers are moderately frost resistant, and of a peculiar light mauve/bluish sort of color, with a distinctive darker blue eye. The attractive grey green foliage is also quite unusual. Like most South African annuals, this species likes maximum sun and good drainage, and it is not fussy about soil. I don't know if it would resow, in any case I collected most of the seeds produced so I can enjoy more of it next year.

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