Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Daisies are a mainstay in flower arrangements. They’re used year-round, and are suitable for most occasions. There are so many kinds of daisies available, but the most popular of all is the Shasta daisy. This perky flower is everything you would expect in a daisy. The ultra-white petals offset the vivid yellow center.
Shasta daisies were created over a hundred years ago by Luther Burbank, one of America’s foremost plant breeders.
He bred them in 1890 by crossing a wild oxeye field daisy with a Japanese daisy he had selected. After working for about fifteen years on the project, he felt it was ready for release to the public. Since the new plant needed a name, he named it after Mt. Shasta in California.
From the time he introduced the plant, gardeners couldn’t get enough of it. Though the original Shasta daisy was a single, we can now buy semi-doubles and full doubles as well.
Shasta daisies belong in every cutting garden. They’re very easy to grow, and require very little attention.
Many are grown from seed, though the named cultivars are propagated from tip cuttings. They won’t necessarily come true from seed. You can also get new plants by dividing them every couple of years. Gardeners in warm climates can do this in the winter months, but those in northern climates should divide them in the spring.
These plants are hardy for USDA zones 5 through 10. Most varieties bloom from late spring through the autumn, and survive the first frosts of the season.
The size of the plants can vary, depending upon the cultivar you are growing. Most are about two to three feet in height. Only 1˝’ feet tall, ’Snowcap’ is an exception. Shasta daisies are clump-forming plants, usually about one to three feet wide.
Sometimes the taller kinds will need staking to prevent the stems from falling over.
Shasta daisies are prolific bloomers. You should be able to harvest flowers all season long. Cutting encourages re-blooming, so cut the stems on a regular basis.
Shasta daisies are suitable for informal floral designs. The sturdy stems require no wiring.
When it comes to Latin names, that of the Shasta daisy is a humdinger. Originally it was known as Chrysanthemum x superbum. Older gardening books will list the plant under this name. The x indicates that the plant is a hybrid.
Some years ago, botanists renamed the plant, which is now known as Leucanthemum x superbum. In this new name, leukos is Greek for white, and anthemon refers to flowers.