If you want a flower that combines the look of the traditional daisy with evergreen ,year round foliage then look no further than the shasta daisy. This bright summer flower is an easy to grow, low maintenance way to fill flower beds or naturalize bare patches in the garden. An increasingly popular perennial, with both gardeners and pollinators, if you want to add some shasta daisy plants to your garden, this is your complete guide.
The bright shasta daisy flower is popular with gardeners and pollinators.
What is a Shasta Daisy?
Originally the shasta daisy was classified as Chrysanthemum x superbum. It has since been reclassified as Leucanthemum x superbum. While the Leucanthemum genus is native to Europe and Asia the shasta daisy originates in America.
To the casual observer, the shasta daisy resembles both the common or English daisy and the Oxeye daisy. However, there are some differences. While both the Shasta daisy and Oxeye daisies are members of the Leucanthemum genus, the English daisy is part of the bellis genus.
Shasta’s are typically taller than English varieties. Their flowers also have a larger yellow center. Oxeye daisies are more commonly found in the wild, spreading along roadsides than other cultivars.
Different Shasta Daisy Varieties
Today, several cultivars of shasta daisy are commercially available. The majority of these can reach upto 3 ft in height if planted in favorable conditions. For containers or more compact areas, dwarf cultivars are also available. These reach a maximum height of 12 to 24 inches.
Some of the most popular include:
- Beck, this is the classic large flowering variety. When mature it reaches about 3 ft in height.
- Cobham Gold is a slightly smaller variety, reaching about 2 ft. This popular double flower reliably produces attractive yellow flowers throughout the summer.
- Snow Lady is a fast growing, bushy perennial. Flowering in the first year if grown from seed, it produces elegant, white single blooms.
- Horace Reed is another white flowering variety. Unlike Snow Lady, Horace Reed produces double flowers. Banana cream is a smaller cultivar, rarely exceeding 18 inches in height. When in flower lemon-pastel colored blooms with yellow centers cover the plant.
- Becky is one of the largest varieties. Its long lasting blooms measure upto 4 inches in diameter and sit on stems 3 to 4 ft in length. Becky’s blooms make for good cut flowers.
- Crazy Daisy is a reliable, double flowering cultivar. Reaching just over 2 ft in height, the plant produces eye-catching, double flowers with frilly white petals and yellow centers.
- Dwarf Shasta Daisy is, as the name suggests, a compact cultivar. Producing showy white blooms with bright yellow centers, Its flower stems rarely exceed 2 ft.
As I have already noted, there are a number of different shasta daisy plants available. While growing from seed offers you more choice, it can often be quicker to buy young plants ready for transplanting.
Garden stores and plant nurseries offer a range of varieties. When selecting young plants, try to pick the healthiest looking specimens. If you are ordering from an online plant nursery, your plants will typically be shipped to you when they are ready for planting out.
The vast majority of varieties are hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 9, however individual varieties may have their own needs so check the plant information on the label or seed packet before planting.
Select a variety or varieties that will thrive in your garden.
Where to Plant a Shasta Daisy
Shasta daisies thrive in rich, fertile soils. The richer the soil the better the floral display. Good drainage is also important.
Planting in a wet or poorly draining position encourages problems such as root rot. Several weeks before planting work organic matter, such as compost, several inches into the soil to further enrich the planting site and improve drainage. Ideally the soil pH should be between 5.5 and 6.2. A soil test kit is a quick way to find out how healthy your soil is and what improvements, if any, you need to make.
These are sun loving plants, so full sun positions are preferred. In warmer climates you can also plant in partial shade. In colder areas, plant in pots. This enables you to move the plants undercover during the fall and winter months, protecting them from cold weather. Alternatively, you will need to plant new shasta daisy specimens every year for a continuous and long lasting display.
How to Plant
Harden off shasta daisy plants before planting in the prepared soil.
To plant, dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the container currently holding the plant. Work 2 to 3 inches of compost into the bottom of the hole.
Carefully remove the plant from its container and position in the center of the hole. Backfill, firming the soil down as you do so, and water well. Mulch around the plant.
If you are planting more than one shasta daisy, space the plants 2 to 3 ft apart.
Preparing the soil before planting helps to give specimens an additional boost.
Planting in Pots
Shasta daisy plants thrive in pots as long as drainage is good. Avoid planting in terracotta pots. Plastic or glazed ceramic containers are better for keeping the soil evenly moist. The pot should be at least 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Larger cultivars require up to 3 ft of growing space so are better planted in old barrels or raised beds.
If there aren’t any drainage holes in the bottom of the pot you will need to make some. A thin layer of netting at the bottom of the pot helps to prevent the soil from clogging up drainage holes. Fill the pot with fresh, all purpose potting soil.
Loosen the top 12 inches of soil and work in compost. Plant in holes twice as large as the container holding the plant. When placed in the hole, the top of the root ball should sit level with the soil surface. Firm the soil down. Water until excess moisture starts to trickle out of the drainage holes. As the soil settles, you may need to add some more potting soil. .
Taller specimens may require stakes. Bamboo stakes provide sturdy, natural support. Supports are best installed when planting. Tie the plant loosely to the stake with some string or garden twine. Don’t tie the plant too tightly, this can damage the stems or branches and can also deter healthy air flow through the foliage.
Caring for Shasta Daisy Plants
Once established, ongoing shasta daisy care is minimal.
If planted in a favorable spot, day to day care is minimal.
Deadhead spent flowers to encourage more blooms to set. Shasta daisy blooms also make good cut flowers. Their low maintenance nature means that the plants are a reliable inclusion in a cut flower garden. Cutting flowers for display also encourages plants to profusely flower.
When plants start to fade, usually in September, cut them back severely.
During dry spells, water regularly. Apply around 1 inch of water a week. Don’t allow the soil to dry out. If you are growing in pots, water when the soil feels dry to the touch.
Mulch around the plants to help keep them cool and prolong flowering. Mulches such as leaves, wood chippings, bark and straw also help to keep the soil cool and improve moisture retention. As the natural mulch breaks down it adds nutrients to the soil giving plants a further boost.
If you have amended the soil prior to planting there is no real need to fertilize the plants.
To encourage healthy plants and a good flowering display apply a low nitrogen fertilizer once every three months during the growing season. Bone meal can also be applied.
Pinch out stem tops when they are 6 inches tall. This promotes branching or fuller plants to form. It also encourages a more profuse floral display.
Older or mature shasta daisy plants require regular pruning to stop them becoming leggy and falling over. They can also be divided.
Regularly deadhead spent flowers and cut away dead growth. This keeps plants neat and tidy and also encourages new stems to emerge the following spring. Deadheading also prevents plants from setting seed and spreading throughout the garden.
As the flowers fade at the end of summer, prune back harshly. Alternatively, wait until the first frost has passed before removing any dead foliage. Cut stems down to 1 to 2 inches above soil level.
Apply a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch such as straw or leaves over the plants. This helps to keep the soil temperature consistent throughout the winter. You can also cover the cut back plants with a frost blanket such as Valibe Plant Covers. Make sure that the entire crown is covered to prevent frost damage.
Specimens growing in pots can be moved undercover. Place in a cool, dark room such as a garage or shed. A plant caddy, such as these Bright Creations Metal Plant Caddies provide a sturdy and durable way to transport large potted plants around the home and garden.
During the winter period, when plants are dormant, they do not need any light or fertilizer. Water the soil only when it feels very dry.
Return plants to their usual position or remove the protective covers in the spring once any danger of frost has passed. At this stage you can also resume your regular care routine.
For more tips on protecting your plants from frost, this is a great article.
Dividing Mature Plants
To rejuvenate mature plants, divide them every 3 to 4 years. If the plants are growing in containers, lifting and dividing also helps to prevent them becoming pot bound. Making divisions is a good way to get new plants. It is more reliable and far quicker than growing from seed.
Dig up spring and summer flowering varieties in the fall. Fall flowering varieties should be lifted and divided in the spring. This gives the plants time to re-establish themselves and store energy in their root system before flowering.
Making divisions, and lifting plants, is best done on a cool, cloudy day. Wait until the flowers have faded and the plant is starting to die back or showing signs of dormancy such as leaf drop before lifting.
Begin by cutting the stems down to about 6 inches from the ground. This makes the plants easier to handle. It also reduces moisture loss, and ensures plants don’t become overly stressed.
Use a spade to dig a circle 4 to 6 inches around the plant. This is safely away from any active growth at the center of the plant. Dig under the root mass and lift the clump as one. Older plants can be difficult to lift. You may require assistance.
Shake off any excess dirt from the roots and gently tease the edges apart. Use a sharp knife to cut the root clump into equal pieces. Each section should have some roots and top growth. Particularly in mature plants, the center is often woody and unproductive. This can be discarded.
Re-plant the divisions in holes roughly 1 ft deep and 10 inches wide. Mix in compost, peat or manure and plant 3 to 4 stems per hole. Water well and mulch.
Growing From Seed
To grow shasta daisy plants from seed, sow in pots or trays undercover, either in a cold frame or greenhouse, in the fall or spring. Ideally you should start the seeds 8 to 10 weeks before your last predicted frost date.
Scatter the seedlings as thinly as possible. Do not cover. Moisten gently with a spray bottle or plant mister. Place in a light position. The temperature should average 70 ℉.
Germination usually takes 14 to 21 days. Following germination continue to grow the seedlings on undercover. During this period continue to keep the potting medium moist.
Germinate seeds in a light, warm position.
When 2 true sets of leaves appear and the last frost date has passed, harden off the seedlings before transplanting outside.
In warmer climates or undercover you can sow the seeds directly into pots. This is best done from May to mid August. You can also sow directly into pots in early September. Sow the seeds in groups of three, spacing each group 12 to 24 inches apart. Remember, in cooler climates, to protect the young seedlings from winter temperatures.
Following germination thin out the seedlings so that only the healthiest specimens remain.
Common Pests and Problems
While these are largely problem free plants, pests such as aphids can be problematic. Regularly check the foliage and flowers for signs of infestation. Treat affected foliage with neem oil. Earwigs also like to inhabit the foliage.
Leaf miners may dig through the leaves leading to defoliation. Cut away any affected leaves. Biological controls should be applied.
Two spotted spider mites target humid and hot plants. These pests can simply be washed away with a blast from a garden hose.
Slugs can also target the foliage. If allowed to, slugs can decimate young plants. If slugs are a problem in your garden, this article outlines a number of easy to implement control methods.
Leaf spot causes white spots and dark brown lesions to emerge on foliage. This is typically caused by wet foliage. Cut away and destroy any affected leaves. Don’t place diseased foliage on the compost heap. Leaf spot can be prevented by keeping the foliage as dry as possible. When watering, try to water the soil around the plants and not the plants themselves.
Verticillium wilt can also be problematic. This is usually caused by soil borne fungi which infects roots before spreading through the rest of the plant. As verticillium wilt develops it causes wilting, foliage to yellow, stunted growth and leaf loss.
Correctly caring for your plants and adopting good garden habits, such as always cleaning your tools, can help to prevent this disease. Healthy plants are more likely to survive disease or infestation. Adopting good practices also helps to prevent chrysanthemum nematode.
Why Hasn’t My Shasta Daisy Produced any Flowers?
For older shasta daisy plants, a failure to flower may be a sign that they need to be divided. This helps to rejuvenate mature specimens.
Applying too much fertilizer, or fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen, encourages lots of foliage to form. This is often at the expense of flower production.
Planting in too warm a position, a position that doesn’t receive enough sunlight or in overly soggy soil can also deter flowering.
These versatile flowers are a great choice to bring color, interest and pollinators to the garden.
These bright flowers with their sunny centers are perfectly at home in cottage gardens and mixed flower beds. Shasta daisy plants look particularly attractive alongside other cottage garden favorites such as:
Versatile enough to work in a range of planting schemes, why not introduce a couple of shasta daisy plants to your garden?