Everything You Need to Know About Growing Daisies
There's nothing pretentious about daisies. You've loved these cheerful, common flowers ever since you learned to draw them in kindergarten. Perhaps it's because daisies grow in crayon colors: yellow centers ringed with white petals on plain green stems.
Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum) are the ones you probably remember from childhood, and it's easy to add them to your own garden.
Daisy Flower Facts
- Size: 1 to 4 feet high
- Light: full sun
- Soil: moderately fertile and well-drained, but also tolerant of clay and sand
- Range: all South; hardy in USDA zones 4–9
- Uses: butterfly gardens and flower borders; stiff stems make for great cut flowers
Where to Plant Daisies
Shasta daisies are an old-fashioned favorite for planting in a cutting garden, along a fencerow, or in a half-wild, meadow-inspired cottage garden. They won't attract the deer wandering through, but will draw in butterflies when bursting with blooms in spring and summer. Shasta daisies are tough and tolerant, but prefer well-drained soil and require full sun (at least six hours). Daisies can grow quite tall once established and are generally best planted in the back of the border. For a shorter shasta, try 'Snow Lady,' a hybrid measuring 10 to 12 inches high. The jagged, lance-shaped leaves of shasta daisy are semi-evergreen in much of the South, but won't last in summer in central and southern Florida. There they are used as annuals in flower beds and container gardens.
How to Plant Daisies
To grow from seed, sow the seeds indoors eight weeks before the final spring frost. Barely cover with seed-starting mix and keep moist and at around 70 degrees. The seedlings will emerge in two to three weeks, at which point they should be placed under plant lights or in a sunny window. Harden off seedlings before transplanting them outdoors by first placing them in the shade and gradually exposing them to more light. Bring indoors any time there is a danger of frost.
Daisies can be transplanted into the garden in spring or fall. Autumn planting has the advantage of establishing root systems before flowering. Each 4-inch transplant you set out in fall will produce, at a fraction of the cost, roughly the same amount of blooms as a 1-gallon plant purchased in the spring. But don't fret if you waited until spring to go daisy crazy; plants started now will continue to grow all year. Plant the rootball level with the surrounding soil, mulch lightly, and water thoroughly at least once a week until your daisies are established. By next spring, your daisies will tolerate occasional dry spells.
How to Care for Daisies
Deadhead your daisies to encourage continuous blooming. You can even shear the long flower stems for a bushier, more floriferous plant. Water once a week during hot, dry spells. Tackle any pests with a strong burst of water from a garden hose or with insecticidal soap.
Daisies are perennial, so consider your patch an ongoing addition to the garden. Divide large clumps of them every other year around October, cutting roots apart with a sharp spade. This will keep crowded roots from smothering each other and will offset the natural decline that occurs after two to three years. Set divisions 10 to 12 inches apart in full sun, or share them with friends. You can also dig seedlings from beneath parent plants in the fall and replant them.
How to Prepare Daisy Flowers for Winter
Bed down shastas for winter by tucking mulch around each plant, taking care not to cover leaves. The rosettes of foliage stay green year-round in much of the South. 'Alaska' is a selection named for its tolerance for icy weather; this 2-foot beauty produces 2-inch flowers nonstop for at least a month in the spring and sporadically until cold weather returns. No matter how cold your winters, shasta daisies will reward you with bright bouquets filled with heart-warming blooms.