HOW TO GROW AND CARE FOR OUR PLANTS
The Dimorphotheca they are delightful asteraceae that form small colored bushes and for this reason they are widely used as a border and to brighten up gardens.
Species: see the paragraph on "Main species"
The genre Dimorphotheca of the family of Asteraceae (formerCompositae) includes annual perennial plants originating from South Africa, mainly used to create lawns borders but also grown in pots.
They form small bushes characterized by numerous stems rich in lanceolate leaves, with a leathery and waxy consistency.
The flowers are carried by long stems that end with a head inflorescence that bears the real flowers arranged in this way: female petal-shaped flowers (ligulate flowers) are the outermost and variously colored ones that give the flower its color; hermaphrodite flowers with female functionality and hermaphroditic flowers with male functionality that make up the disc, that is the central part of the flower head.
Flowering is very long starting in spring and ending with the arrival of the bad season, a period in which the whole aerial part dries up to be reborn with the arrival of spring.
There are seven species in the genus Dimorphotheca among which we remember:
DIMORPHOTHECA AURANTIACA (DIMORPHOTHECA SINUATA)
The species Dimorphotheca aurantiaca it is a perennial plant that does not exceed 40 cm in height. It has leaves arranged alternately along the stems and flowers, 5 cm wide, gathered in flower heads, with the external flowers of a very intense orange color, while the flowers of the central disc are dark brown in color.
Flowering begins at the end of spring and continues throughout the summer (June-September).
There are numerous varieties that differ in the different color of the flower heads.
DIMORPHOTHECA PLUVIALIS (D. ANNUA)
There Dimorphotheca pluvialis (synonymous D. annual) is an annual plant much appreciated for its decorative effect.
It is characterized by stems no higher than 30 cm and the flowers, particularly perfumed (like the leaves), 5cm wide, of a creamy white and reddish color in the most central part with the central yellowish-brown disc.
Flowering occurs from the end of spring and continues throughout the summer (June - August).
There Dimorphotheca ecklonis It is a perennial plant that does not exceed 60 cm in height.Its peculiarity is that it is very bushy and showy thanks also to its flower heads up to 8 cm wide, pink-purple in color and with a blue central disc. It blooms during the summer period (July August).
There Dimorphotheca barberiae it is a perennial species characterized by lanceolate leaves, covered with a light down and very fragrant. The flower heads are pink-purple with a dark red central disc. It blooms throughout the summer period (June-September).
There Dimorphotheca calendulacea It is an annual species characterized by thin stems and leaves of a beautiful intense green color. It blooms during the summer period (July - September) producing beautiful white or pale yellow blooms 8cm wide with a blue central disc.
The Dimorphotheca they are easy to grow plants that do not require particularly important attention.
Despite being many perennial species, they are usually raised as annuals. The planting takes place in May and October: the stems (in the case of perennial species) are cut at the base if you want to have another year of cultivation. If the area has cold winter temperatures, it is necessary to protect the roots with straw or a thick layer of leaves.
They are plants that must be grown in sunny positions but away from cold air currents.
The Dimorphotheca they must be watered regularly in the summer, using water at room temperature, paying attention to water stagnation that is not tolerated.
TYPE OF SOIL - REPOT
The soil must be fertile, rich in organic matter. A good mix could be garden soil, peat and sand to help drain the irrigation water.
There Dimorphotheca fertilize every two / three weeks starting from spring and all summer, using a good liquid fertilizer diluted in the water for watering and halving the doses compared to what is reported in the fertilizer package. In other periods they must be suspended.
It is advisable to use a fertilizer that in addition to having macroelements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) also has microelements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), all important for proper plant growth.
The Dimorphotheca they are plants that cannot be pruned. Only the parts of the plant and the inflorescences that dry up over time are eliminated to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for parasitic diseases. Remember to always use scissors that are clean and disinfected, preferably with a flame, to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for parasitic diseases.
The flowering period generally takes place in the summer period. In order to have a second flowering, the flower heads must be cut as soon as they bloom.
The multiplication of the Dimorphotheca it occurs mainly by seed even if there are some species (D. aurantiaca) which can be multiplied by cutting.
MULTIPLICATION FOR TALEA
In this case D. aurantiaca 8 cm long cuttings are taken in summer (July - August) by cutting them immediately under the node. It is recommended to cut in an oblique direction as this allows for a greater surface for rooting and avoids the accumulation of water on this surface.
Use a razor blade or a sharp knife to avoid fraying of the fabrics. Make sure that the tool you use for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably over a flame) to avoid infecting the fabrics.
After removing the lower leaves, they settle in a compote formed by peat and sand in equal parts by making holes with a pencil, as many as there are cuttings to be arranged, taking care to subsequently compact the soil.
The new plants will have to spend the whole winter in a protected environment and only in May of the following year can they be planted.
MULTIPLICATION BY SEEDS
Sowing, whether it is annual or perennial species, is carried out directly in the open field at the beginning of spring (April). When the new plants begin to emerge, the evidently less robust ones are eliminated, also to thin out, and obtain an average distance of 30 cm (except in theD. annual which can be 15 cm).
If the weather is good, the first seedlings will begin to emerge after a month and a half after sowing.
If the area you are in is subject to late frosts, it is preferable that sowing is done in a protected environment, in March, in a tray using a mixture of peat and sand and keeping the multiplication box at a constant temperature of 18 ° C and keeping the ground always constantly humid. They will plant themselves as soon as you are sure that the danger of frost has been averted.
PARASITES AND DISEASES
Presence of small whitish insects on the plant
If you notice small light-colored mobile insects you are almost certainly in the presence of aphids or as they are commonly called lice.
Remedies: treat the plant with specific pesticides readily available from a good nurseryman. These are generally systemic products, i.e. they enter the lymphatic circulation of the plant and are therefore absorbed during the nutrition of the insects.
Presence on the plant of white insects similar to small butterflies
These small insects are whiteflies, known by the common name of whiteflies. To be sure of their presence, just shake the plant: if a white cloud is raised, it means that they are present. They are usually located on the underside of the leaves. The damage they cause is determined by the subtraction of the lymph thanks to their biting-sucking mouthparts and by the punctures they make in the tissues for the deposition of the eggs. They also produce honeydew which is nothing other than the sugary and sticky excrements of the whiteflies which can cause the onset of fumaggini and can transmit virosis.
Remedies: treat with specific pesticides available from a good nursery.