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Gardening From Southern California

by Gerald Burke
by Gerald Burke


Gerald Burke is a freelance travel and horticultural writer. He spent 35 years in the seed business, 30 of them with Burpee, and is a member of the Garden Writers Association and the North American Travel Journalists Association

May 6, 2007

The first time I grew venidium I relied on advice from a South African grower, the area in which this beautiful, sunflower-like garden beauty originated. He said that venidium probably should be planted for winter flowering in Southern California. I did that and wasn’t too happy with the results, because the flowers came late in the spring and weren’t as spectacular as I had seen them before. So I tried planting in the spring, for summer flowers and got much better results.

Venidium is one of a multitude of flowers we’ve acquired from South Africa and it’s in the same family as arctotis, and is sometimes labeled as Arctotis fastuosa. More good garden flowers we can thank South Africa for are gerbera, gazania, dimorphotheca and others. But venidium is unique, with its orange and white flowers, dark black to purple centers and lobed green to gray foliage.

There are several varieties of venidium, but fastuosa, often labeled as Monarch of the Veldt, is the one we most commonly see offered and the best. The plants get around two feet tall and produce an abundance of sunflower-like blooms with large centers and short petals that surround the center. In my view, it blooms best when planted in early to mid-spring, but in mildest winter climates it may do fairly well planted in September for winter bloom.

Venidium is easy to grow from seed, and you may find it in some of the better nurseries and garden centers as a started plant, usually in four inch pots. Seed is big, and easy to handle, and germination is usually good, with plants showing in two to three weeks from sowing. Unfortunately not many seed catalogs list the seed anymore, but it is listed in Thompson and Morgan’s 2007 catalog on page 143. I have seen it from time to time on various seed racks.

Since the plants are tall, they need to be placed in the back of the flower bed for best results, and venidium can also be used as a container plant on balconies and patios. The container needs to be at least 10 inches tall and 15 inches in diameter, and the growing medium can be garden soil or a container mix that isn’t too heavy. In the garden venidium needs only minimal watering after germination and it is well established, but will need more water in a container.

Venidium should be planted in full sun everywhere and seems resistant to insects and disease, but snails do sometimes like to chew on the foliage of new plantings.

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