When I was a child, I somehow imagined that all flowers closed their petals at night, and opened up in the sun again the next morning. As I grew up and learned more about the plants in the flower garden, I realized that very few flowers actually “sleep” at night. But gazania (Gazania rigens) is an exception. These brightly-colored blooms close at night, only opening up when the sun reaches them the next day. On cloudy days, they may open only partially or not at all. These sun-worshippers are native to South Africa, but have been widely cultivated for use in home gardens around the world. You’ll find them in shades of orange, yellow, pink, and white, all with slender dark green leaves.
Gazania is grown as in annual in most areas, though growers in zones 8 – 11 can try it as a perennial. (It may struggle in the hot humid summers of the south, though I can usually squeak a few by here in Florida if I grow them in drier sunny spots.) Give it plenty of sun and well-drained soil – over-watering can lead to root rot. It’s low-growing, so try it along walkway paths or in tall containers where it can be appreciated. In colder zones, you can bring container plants indoors in the fall, take basal offsets to root and overwinter, or just start some from seed in late winter. In warmer climates, gazania will colonize an area if left on its own; you can also divide plants to spread to new areas or give away to friends. Learn more about gazania here.