Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bye-bye 'African Moon'

It's not yet Halloween, but next year's seed catalogs already are arriving.

'African Moon' boasts a cheery flower. But is it an Osteospermum or Dimorphotheca?

The first of the seed catalogs for 2010 arrived in the mail this week. I'm still trying to tie up all the loose ends from 2009. Blame some of it on our wet, dreary October, but I still have containers to empty, dahlias to dig for overwintering and seed trays to wash. 2010 seems like a long way off. But on a gloomy afternoon, I'll take the bait and flip through the pages of the Thompson & Morgan catalog. After all, that red cosmos ('Rubenza') on the cover is plenty attractive.

On the sale pages for discontinued seed is one of my favorite annuals from this past summer: Osteospermum 'African Moon.' Say it ain't so! The plant isn't perfect, but it's just as garden-worthy as many other annuals. The foliage can be a little floppy, but the flower is a nice white with yellow-apricot edges. It bloomed its head off, and I think if I had been diligent about deadheading I could have gotten even more out of it.

The poor plant has suffered from some ambiguous marketing. T&M sells the seed as Osteospermum pluvialis and in the catalog refers to Dimorphotheca as a synonym for Osteospermum. But says that Dimorphotheca and Osteospermum are not the same. Stokes Seeds lists them as separate genera. This sort of disconnect makes it hard for home gardeners to know exactly what they're getting. What we thought was Osteospermum seems to more accurately be Dimorphotheca.

Naming issues aside, we may have to order some seed
s earlier than planned or seek out other sources to keep our 'African Moon' shining.

One cool thing about 'African Moon' is that its flowers close in the evening or on overcast days. The undersides of the petals are pretty in their own right.

That's 'African Moon' at top left and Osteospermum 'Asti White' on the right. There seems to be no confusion about 'Asti White's' Osteospermum roots.

A low-growing phlox borders a bright patch of 'African Moon.' 'African Moon's' foliage appeared disappointingly limp in 2008 so this year I planted them closer together and they seemed to appreciate the tighter quarters.

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