Flower arrangementsGardeningHome

Daisies for days

I choose “Love Me” in “Love-me / Love-me-not”!

As a child, my favorite flower was the common daisy of the uncultivated fields. Resilient even in the streets and alleys of urban Montreal where I grew up, the oxeye daisy _ or marguerite in French_ originating from Europe and Asia has become one of the most common naturalized plants in North America. From Chrysanthemum leucanthemum when I was an undergraduate biology student, its scientific names have changed over the years to become the now accepted Leucanthemum vulgare.

During my youth, I have often played ‘He loves me, he loves me not ‘ with my friends. However, an oxeye daisy is not the best choice for a perennial garden. It behaves as an invasive species and with time has a disheveled look. In farmers’ fields, it may choke crop growth. This gives it the moniker of a noxious weed.

The daisy “flower”, like all of its family, the Asteraceae, is actually a multitude of flowers: the florets. They are grouped together in a flower head called a capitulum, a flat and disc-shaped inflorescence with petal-like sterile flowers that form rays projecting outward from a central disc of bell-shaped florets producing seeds.

Shasta daisies: the most suitable to grow in the garden

If you decide to grow daisies in your garden, it’s better to choose one of the many cultivars of shasta daisies available on the market: bright, cheerful, taller or shorter, long-lasting and larger flowers, and, even more, easy to grow. Beautiful varieties of shastas are the charming trademarks of perennial borders in both classic, wild and cottage gardens.

Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum ×superbum) are hybrids combining the best qualities of the oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), English field daisy (Leucanthemum maximum) and Portuguese field daisy (Leucanthemum lacustre). They offer single, double, quilled, and fringed forms, some even having yellow rays. They attract bumblebees and butterflies, tolerate some drought and heat, resist deer and rabbit damage and may even bloom a second time late in the summer. For these reasons, shasta daisy varieties are highly suitable for growing in the garden.


Daisies grow in full sun to light shade, in well-drained soil rich with an annual addition of compost. Good soil drainage is especially important to prevent crown rot in spring. They require regular watering, although they will tolerate the occasional summer drought.

Shasta varieties can be as tiny as 6 inches and as tall as 4 feet. On tall plants, staking is a must. Use semi-circular stakes or tie them together with string. Alternatively, you may plant them in the middle of the border so that other plants will serve as supports.

Shasta daisies are somewhat short-lived perennials. Their clumps tend to grow outward, leaving the center bare and dry. Albeit hardy from zones 8 to 4, they may become very weak or disappear after a tough winter or soggy spring. For these reasons, I recommend dividing them every 3 years to rejuvenate the plants and maintain their vigor.

Deadheading is a must during flowering, as mature heads are not aesthetic. It also prevents seed production which causes them to become invasive. Seedlings are rarely similar to the parents and tend to revert to the oxeye daisy look.

Rose chafers (on early bloomers) and Japanese beetles affect daisies, as well as thrips and aphids. Symptoms are half eaten flowers or foliage turning yellow. Earwigs, slugs and snails also shred the blooms after dark. Best practices recommend low-impact methods of control.

Overwatering and lack of sunlight may alter the growth, although some cultivars are more shade tolerant as long as the soil is organic and well-drained. Fungal diseases may apear under similar poor growing conditions or following extensive rainy periods.

Below are some cultivars of shasta daisies grown in my gardens. They brighten the borders, being very good companion plants to my peonies. They are also charming in arrangements, even on their own, as their vase life is quite admirable.

Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Alaska’

Bearing 3-inch wide single white flowerheads with yellow discs on 2- to 3-foot stems, this cultivar is widely sold and planted. Early summer flowering, continuing through fall if deadheaded. May benefit from pruning back after first bloom.

Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Banana Cream’

Lovely 4” semi-double, butter yellow flowers fading slightly to cream. Densely branched plants reach 15″ to 18” tall and 24” wide. Long lasting as a cut flower.

Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Silver Princess’

Medium compact with a maximum height of 15″ to 18″. Excellent for cutting with a finely dissected foliage.

Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Snowdrift’

Absolutely charming growing as a 2 foot tall clump. The semi-double, ruffled white flowers with yellow centers have floppy, mop-headed delicate white florets. A long-flowering cultivar if dead-headed regularly.

Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Polaris’

Great 3 foot tall shasta daisy with classic white florets around a dense, compact yellow disc. Shade tolerant and no staking required for this one in my garden.

Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Goldfinch’

Short and dense plants of 12″ to 18″ offer semi-double, shaggy yellow flowers. A prolific bloomer with good disease resistance.

Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Real Dream’

Large flowers displaying 3 layers of creamy yellow florets fading gradually and well-defined dark yellow centers. 16 ” tall.

Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Real Glory’

Uniquely crested centers with buttery yellow and delicate white rays. Densely branched cultivar reaching 3 feet in height.

Previous post

Itoh Peonies: The best of two worlds

Next post

My top 16 most popular Instagram peony florals of all time