Whether you played “Loves me loves me not” as a child or not, we bet you recognize a daisy when you see one. These sunny blooms are the first kind of flower children learn to draw. Although a vast number of flowers are commonly known as “daisies,” when it comes to the Midwestern garden, Shasta daisy is tops.
Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) is a hybrid of several other daisies. The disk-like flowers bloom from mid-summer until fall, bringing long-term interested to the perennial border. Shasta daisy is also a terrific cut flower. But smell before you plant; some people find the fragrance of Shasta daisies off-putting.
Using Shasta Daisy in the Garden
Shasta daisy is has strong stems that make it stand up even to heavy rains, adding some much-needed sturdiness to the perennial border. The shining white petals make it a terrific neutral; it blunt the contrast between brilliant, hot colors and brightens up softer tones.
Use daisies in clumps of three or five to get a substantial swathe of flowers. Daisies have less impact when used as stand-alone plants, although they can be a nice addition to a meadow-style planting.
‘Becky’ and ‘Alaska‘ are the most well-known cultivars, usually growing between 2′ and 3’ tall. If you’d like something a little shorter, we love the charming ‘Snowcap,’ which tops out at about 1′ tall and wide. Almost all Shasta daisies have white petals, but ‘Banana Cream’ and ‘Broadway Lights’ bloom yellow and fade to white. And for some wild texture, check out the frizzled petals of ‘Crazy Daisy.’
Great companions for daisies in a cottage garden include coneflowers (Echinacea spp.), tickseed (Coreopsis spp.), catmint (Nepeta spp.) and yarrow (Achillea spp.). For a more streamlined look, daisies partner well with various grasses (we especially like Panicum virgatum) and sedums (Sedum spp.)
Shasta daisies lure butterflies and other pollinators, including honey bees. Daisies cry out for picking, whether to make daisy chains or to play “loves me loves me not.” Plant a few extra in case you lose some blooms to passing children, who find them irresistible.
Growing Shasta Daisy
Shasta daisy thrives in most gardens. For the best show, planting in full sun. It can take a little light shade, especially if the soil is a bit dry. Daisies cannot handle wet feet, so make sure the soil is well-drained.
The spent flowers of daisies are unattractive. To keep your flowers looking fresh and to keep the blooms coming, deadhead regularly. Look below the spent flower for the next bud developing (it will look like a little button on the stem), and cut right above that.
When your daisies have finished blooming for the year, cut the stems completely down to the fresh rosette of leaves at the bottom.
Shasta daisy can be short-lived; plan on dividing your plants every three years.