What is Arctotis?

Vasanth S.

Arctotis is a plant genus that is part of the Asteraceae family. It contains about 40 species of deciduous perennials, most of which are native to southern Africa. This group of plants features daisy-like flowers and oval leaves. Landscapers utilize these plants for flower beds, borders, and containers. Most require regular pruning and almost all are affected by leaf consuming insects, particularly aphids and sawflies.

Some species of arctotis thrive near salt sprays from the ocean.
Some species of arctotis thrive near salt sprays from the ocean.

The name of this genus is derived from the Greek words arctos and otis, which translate to "a bear" and "ear," respectively. This describes the hairs on the surface of the fruit produced by these plants. The common name for plants within the Arctotis genus is African daisy. Most species have a variation of the common name, including Arctotis venusta, which is called blue-eyed African daisy.

Arcototis are often infected by aphids.
Arcototis are often infected by aphids.

A majority of the species in this group are distributed throughout southern Africa. Arctotis venusta is located from South Africa to Namibia, while Arctotis stoechadifolia is grown along the west coast of South Africa. The natural habitats of these plants include dunes and coastal areas. Some species thrive in areas with hot, dry summers or frequent salt sprays from the ocean.

Arctotis fastuosa is a commonly cultivated African daisy that grows 24 inches (60 cm) in height and 12 inches (30 cm) wide. The foliage consists of silvery leaves that are deeply lobed and have a hairy surface. Each stem is upright and has several branches. At the top of the stem is the flower.

The flower of A. fastuosa is bright orange, with a ring of black. At the center of the flower is a black spot. There are numerous petals that are arranged in a circular, sun-like arrangement. Typically, the flowers sprout from midsummer to early autumn.

This plant thrives in well-draining soil that is acidic to neutral in pH. It tolerates loamy and sandy soil. A. fastuosa should be planted in an area that is exposed to direct sunlight. If placed in a container, the plant should be near a window or on a patio with sunlight.

A. fastuosa is frequently infested with aphids and sawflies. Aphids are small, round insects and sawflies are usually in their larva stage, appearing as white, crawling larva. Sawflies and aphids feed on the leaves, producing noticeable damage. Aphids typically leave a sticky residue, while sawflies carve a white trail on the surface of the leaf. The leaves usually dry out and turn brown.

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