To me, daisies are the flowers that best represent summertime. Just as tulips speak of spring and chrysanthemums of fall, daisies speak to the lazy and hazy warm days of midyear.
Shasta daisies are among my favorite of this family for several reasons:
- They are unassuming, yet, beautiful in their simplicity.
- There are several varieties available. (The ones pictured above are dwarf Shastas – slightly tucked under a Vitex tree. My mom has tall, 36 inch Shastas (see below) planted near her birdbath. They are dreamy as they dance around the water dish, swaying in the wind.)
- They are perennials.
- They make great cut flowers for indoor admirers.
- They bloom from late spring to late fall.
- And lastly, having a sunny center surrounded by rays of white petals, their blooms are reminiscent of the game He loves me, he loves me not. Ahhh, sweet summertime romance!
Shasta daisies enjoy full sun, but will tolerate a little shade when planted in the very hot areas of the southern US. As I mentioned above, my Shastas are situated slightly under a Vitex tree. They receive quite a bit of direct sun in early morning and late afternoon, but at mid-day they receive dappled sunlight and are doing very well.
Daisies prefer fertile, well-drained soil. They are not at all fond of soggy areas, so avoid over watering them or planting them where water stands. If you have a lot of natural clay (as do I) it would be a good idea to add peat or landscape mix to your natural soil to lessen the water retention of the clay and provide added nutrients.
Deadheading, or cutting off the spent blooms, will encourage your Shasta daisies to produce an abundance of flowers well into the fall months. Deadheading is best done with shears (as opposed to pinching) and keeps your plantings looking nice and neat. From my intro picture far above, you can see that I need to perform this task myself pretty soon!
Once autumn arrives, you can help your daisies overwinter successfully by cutting them close to the ground and mulching around them heavily. The following spring you will likely enjoy a few more flowers than the year prior as Shastas tend to multiply, as do most perennials.
Interestingly, in my research I came across a notation that Shastas are considered short-lived perennials and that it may be best to stagger planting a new batch every spring to keep a fresh supply. I personally have found this not to be the case at two of my homes in north Texas and at my mother’s home in east Texas. I suppose a trial run of a couple of years or so might be in order to see if this may the case with plantings in your area. Otherwise, from my experience, the original daisy plant will slowly multiply and remain healthy for many years.
If your plantings of Shastas eventually become overcrowded and/or the center portion of the bunch discontinues to produce flowers, I recommend dividing them. It is best to divide in late autumn or very early spring (when there are no buds or blooms present.) Split the plant by using a cutting shovel, discard the woody, non-producing center portions and replant the remainder (per directions above) in another location entirely or nearby, allowing growing space between the original planting. You will be surprised at how adaptive the new plantings will be.
Lastly, in addition to keeping your daisies well-fed and their roots dry the only pesky thing to look out for are aphids. If you see these small, soft-bodied bugs (green, black, gray, or brown) congregating and sucking the juice from daisy stems, just spray the plant lightly with a little horticultural oil in the early evening, once a week, for two to three weeks in a row. The oil will suffocate the bugs but should not harm your plant pending you do not spray at mid-day when it is sunny and temps are in the 90’s.
So – about now is the time you will find mature Shasta daisies in half gallon or gallon pots at your local nursery. Although it is already June 1st, it has been mild enough in Texas this spring to afford you the opportunity to successfully add them to your landscape.
Here’s to wishing you a summertime full of Shastas!
Until next time,