. . . all for the love of you! Everyone loves the button center and long, slender rayed petals of the daisy, whether they are tiny like Chamomile or massive like Shastas. The simplest of flower forms is also one of the most beautiful, and we are lucky indeed to have so many wonderful daisies to choose for our gardens.
For the purist, there is Leucanthemum (Shasta Daisy). This is the white-petaled daisy most of us think of when we hear the word. Of course, Shasta has branched out considerably — there are double-flowered forms, frizzly petals, gorgeous yellows and golds — but for most of us, a stand of the classic variety Becky is about as good as any garden plant gets!
Then there are a variety of striped and colored daisies. One of our favorites is Gazania, simply because it’s so easy to grow in less-than-ideal garden spots. This is an annual (well, a tender perennial, but who’s counting — even if you live in its zone 8-10 hardiness range, you’ll want to plant new seeds each spring for maximum bloom power) that surprises you with each new flower. Bold colors, merry stripes, and good staying power — you can’t beat Gazania for those hot, dry, poor-soil areas where fussier plants struggle.
Gazania flowers make excellent cuts for the vase, but what if you want a carpet of bright blooms? Then you must have Livingstone Daisy (Dorotheanthus). This neon-bright annual forms a groundcover of unforgettable beauty, even in extreme heat and humidity. The foliage may remind you of Iceplant — it’s got that succulent thing going on — and the flowers are turned up to the face the sun, their needle-thin petals closing up tight on cloudy days. Even a small planting of Livingstone Daisies will knock your socks off all summer long.
Speaking of neon, the hands-down winner of the “startling bright color” competition in the daisy family is Osteospermum, the African Daisy. We’re putting a picture of one variety here, but until you actually grow this annual for yourself, you will probably assume we Photoshopped the colors or something. African Daisies are big, and they last a long time after cutting. If you want a daisy that will wow ’em in the vase every time, this is the one you must grow.
While you’re growing annuals for the vase, be sure to set out some Gerber Daisies (Gerbera). These flowers arise on thick, strong stems, but even so, they’re so big that they may flop if you don’t slip a little florist’s wire through the base. Gerber Daisies have come a long way in recent years, becoming more compact and floriferous. If you haven’t grown them lately, give them another look!
And why should your indoor arrangements end with the coming of chilly fall weather? If you grow Paper Daisies (Acroclinum), you can enjoy beautifully whorled, double, colorful flowers all winter long. These flowers dry beautifully — just cut them fresh and hang the stems upside-down for a few weeks in a dry, dark area such as a closet or pantry. They’re ready to go, and they will stay beautiful for months as everlastings in your home!
In the garden, be sure to begin daisy season early with English Daisies (Bellis). Unlike most of the other daisies mentioned here, English Daisy is a perennial (zone 4-8), and it flowers in spring, often catching the last daffodils and always keeping company with the tulips. There are countless forms of English Daisies, but we love the elegant double-flowerd, bicolored, “sea anemone” look of Habanera Red Tips. The only trouble we have is deciding whether to keep the blooms in the garden or bring them indoors!
Finally, return to the classic daisy roots with Painted Daisy. Formerly known as Pyrethrum, it’s now classified as Tanacetum, but either way, this rugged perennial (zones 3-7) is ready to dot your sunny garden and best containers with brilliant gold-and-red color all summer. Pollinators adore it, and so will you, as it returns cheerfully year after year.
Nobody ever said their garden had too many daisies, and with today’s more compact varieties, you can bring these beautiful blooms onto your deck, patio, porch, and balcony in containers of all kinds. Bring a smile to your guests’ faces, delight the butterflies, and keep your vases filled all summer. Grow daisies of every stripe this year!
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