This may be a plant that you have never heard of but believe it or not, it is a really plant. Native to Brazil, it belongs to the Asteraceae family, which includes different types of daisy-like plants. The native varieties still have their daisy-like petals but they are very small. On the other hand, the domesticated types only have the center disc, which is yellow with a red dot of pollen aka the eyeball.
If you live in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9 through 11 then you can grow this plant as a tender perennial. On the other hand, if you live in other areas you can still grow the plant but only as an annual.
When it comes to growing the eyeball plant, the first step of the process is to figure out when to plant. The best time is eight weeks prior to your local frost free date. Once you have this date, you can prepare for your planting date.
Preparation before planting begins with cleaning and sterilizing a shallow container. While this process may sound odd, it begins with placing the container in a pan of water with a capful of bleach. Allow to soak for a few minutes and then scrub to remove any soil or debris. Next, rinse in clear water and allow to dry.
While the container is drying, prepare the all purpose potting soil by misting it with water until evenly moist. Once that is done, fill your shallow container with this moist soil and gently tap on a hard surface to release air bubbles.
The next step is to plant the seeds, which are small. The easiest way to do this is to simply sprinkle the seed on the soil’s surface and secure to the soil by gently pushing them onto the soil. Mist with water and place your shallow container on a sunny windowsill. Monitor soil moisture and water when needed.
In three weeks, you should begin to see evidence that the seeds are germinating.
A week prior to your local frost free date; harden off your seedlings by slowly exposing them to their outdoor home. Once they have been outside for one full day, you can plant outside in your garden but plan accordingly. The eyeball plant grows 2 feet across so the plant spacing will need to be 18 inches for proper ventilation.
If growing as an annual, this is end of the story but if you are growing it as a tender perennial you will need to pinch it back in the summer and feed it a balanced fertilizer during the growing season.