Felicia aethiopica 'Tight and Tidy' (Wild Aster) - A showy compact evergreen shrub to 18 inches tall by 3 feet wide with 1 inch log ovate medium green colored leaves and a continuous and profuse display of flowers from spring into late fall. The many solitary flowers have a tight center of yellow disk flowers surrounded by about twelve blue ray flowers and are held well above the leaves on slender dark red stalks (peduncles). Plant in full sun to light shade in most any soil, tolerating light, rich or even clay soils and given regular to occasional summer irrigation. Hardy to around 20°F. Trim back hard (to around 6 inches tall) in mid winter. A great plant in a perennial border, as an edging or specimen plant in the rock garden, spilling over a wall or used in a large container. It is attractive to people and to many pollinating insects such as bees, flies, wasps and butterflies.
Felicia aethiopica can be seen growing naturally on the lower plateau slopes of Table Mountain above Cape Town in Western Cape, South Africa but has a wide distribution range extending from Cederberg well to the west of Cape Town east into Eastern Cape. The genus name Felecia was given to a group of asters that had previously been in the genus Aster or Cinerea by Henri Cassini (A.H.G. de Cassini) in 1818. It has been presumed that the name honors the Italian nobleman, philosopher and scientist Fortunato Bartolomeo de Felice (1723-1789) but other possibilities are that it was named for Herr Felix, mayor of Regensburg in eastern Bavaria or it is a name derived from the Latin word 'felix, that means "cheerful" in reference to the brightly colored flowers. The specific epithet means "from Africa' and usually refers to an origin in South Africa). It is a name derived from Aethiops, an African and son of Vulcan, the Greek God of metalworking and fire. Other common names include Dwarf Felicia and in its native habit the Afrikaans name is Bloublombossie.
Felicia aethiopica, though never common, has long been in cultivation in California. It was referenced in the winter issue of the 1934 edition of Santa Barbara GardenerAnnie's Annuals and Perennials. This plant reminds of us of the once more common Felecia amelloides, most often called the Blue Marguerite Daisy, that we grew from 1983 until 1993 the showy, but Felicia aethiopica has a much longer flowering period that extends well into winter while the Blue Marguerite Daisy was more summer flowering. From 1993 until 2011 we also long grew the showy Shrub Aster, Felicia fruticosa, with tiny narrow dark green leaves and lavender-blue flowers. While it was a drier growing plant that grew great in our climate without much irrigation, it had limited sales appeal due to a shorter flowering period.
Information about Felicia aethiopica 'Tight and Tidy' displayed on this page is based on our research about it conducted in our library and gathered from reliable online sources. We include observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well as how the crops have performed in containers in our own nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others about this plant when we feel it adds information and particularly welcome hearing from anyone who has any additional cultural recommendations that would aid others in growing it.