When to prune daisies?

The Shasta daisy has lovely summer blooms. Caring for Shasta daisies is easy. It is a fairly low maintenance perennial plant that naturalizes to give more and more blooms each year and is great for filling in garden beds and bare spots in your garden. These care tips will help you to get the most out of the plant.

Is your birthday in April? You are probably aware that the daisy is one of April’s birth flowers. (Sweet pea is the other.) One of the prettiest daisies is the Shasta Daisy. It has the traditional English daisy look with pure white petals with yellow centers and dark, glossy leaves.

Shasta Daisy Facts

The flower is also thought to symbolize innocence and hope because of its pure white color and simple look. It is a common feature in English cottage style gardens.

The botanical name for Shasta Daisy has changed over the years. It used to be known as Chrysanthemum x superbum, but is now commonly referred to as Leucanthemum x superbum. There are many varieties of Shasta daisy plants. Some will grow to 3 feet tall and others to just a few inches.

The term Shasta Daisy is named after Mount Shasta, which is located in Northern California. The plant is a hybrid that was developed by Luther Burbank in 1901.

While some daisies come in a variety of colors, most Shasta Daisy colors are limited to white petals with a yellow center and dark green glossy leaves. (There are a few with yellow petals, too.) If you are looking for brightly colored daisies, try Gerbera, Marguerite, painted daisies and, of course, coneflowers.

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Is the Shasta Daisy a common English Daisy?

Many daisies often have white petals and yellow centers. How to they differ? Some common daisies that you are likely to come across are English daisies, Shasta Daisies and Oxeye Daisies. The Shasta variety is very similar to an English daisy, but it has a much larger yellow center and it also grows much taller. The flowers themselves are also much larger.

The Oxeye Daisy is also similar to the English daisy. It is a roadside wildflower that spreads easily and is very drought tolerant. It is known to be quite invasive.

The English daisy is from the bellis genus. Shasta daisy and Oxeye daisies are from the leucanthemum family

Caring for Shasta Daisies

The main considerations for growing the Shasta daisy plant is to give it plenty of sunlight and to take care to divide to contain the plant. It naturalizes easily and can take over a garden if it is not maintained well.

How much sunlight do Shasta Daisies need?

The plant likes to grow in full sun. This makes it ideal for borders in the middle of lawns or containers that sit in the center of sunny garden beds.

Shasta daisy (and it’s more rampant growing cousin oxeye) can tolerate less sunny conditions but they won’t flower as well.

Soil Requirements for Shasta Daisy

This perennial likes a well draining, fertile soil, so preparing the soil before you plant is a must. A fertile soil contains major nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as well as smaller quantities of calcium, sulfur, iron, magnesium and other nutrients. Silty soil is considered the most nutrient rich. Some ways to increase the fertility of your soil are:

  • Adding manure. This adds nitrogen to the soil.
  • If you have room, start a compost pile and use the compost to enrich the soil. Adding humus to the planting holes will make sure that the plant will bloom well all summer long.
  • Mulch around the plants with leaves, bark, hay, wood chips or straw. These materials will help to retain moisture and will also cool the soil. They also break down over time and add more nutrients to the soil matter.
  • Grow cover crops in the winter months.

Many local Department of Agriculture departments will analyze your soil for free, or you can purchase a soil testing kit from your local garden center, or online.

Planting Shasta Daisies

Shasta daisies will grow easily from seeds. You can start seeds in peat pots indoors, or containers in a cold frame in autumn or early spring. If you sow seeds directly into the garden, you can expect blooms the next year after the plant has been growing for a year.

Garden centers sell containers of Shasta daisies each year. Plant these in the spring for summer blooms.

Space Shasta daisy plants 2-3 feet apart to allow for their spreading nature. Be sure to give the plant a hole twice the diameter of the container you purchased it it. Dwarf varieties such as Shasta Daisy Lacrosse can be planted a bit closer. It is also a bit more cold hardy since it will also grow in zone 4.

Flowering Season of Shasta Daisies

The plant flowers in summer and blooms until early fall. The flowers have showy heads with a large center yellow area. Depending on the variety, there is quite a bit of variation in the petals.

Shasta daisies have an upright habit with stiff stems and flowers that sit above the foliage. Shorter dwarf varieties are better in the front of a garden beds but the taller plants will form big clumps that add a backdrop to other perennials. The blooms are great for cutting to bring indoors.

The taller varieties may need protection from strong winds, and some also require forms of support to hold the flower stems so that they don’t flop over.

How often should I water a Shasta Daisy?

This perennial is quite drought friendly. It definitely does not like soggy soil or wet feet and will easily rot if you over water it. The plant can actually tolerate limited periods of drought.

If your summer rainfall is less than 1 inch a week, it’s a good idea to give the plant an extra drink.

How cold hardy is Shasta Daisy?

This pretty plant with its perky blooms is a hardy perennial that will come back even after freezing winters in cold hardiness zones 5-8. Even though the plant is a perennial, it is quite short lived. Many only last just a few year.

To offset the short life span, plant new plants each year. This yearly planting will ensure that the plant will continue to naturalize and grace your garden setting.

Deadheading Shasta Daisies

Caring for Shasta Daisies means that you must put deadheading on your list of summer chores. Deadheading is the process of removing the blooms that have finished flowering. To do this task, just cut the flower stem off at the base of the plant. New flower stems will soon emerge.

Taking care to deadhead means that you may get two or three rounds of flowers a season, so it is well worth the effort.

If you deadhead the plant it will encourage heavier blooms and a larger amount of them, so your plant will give you a better show of flowers. Cut flowers last a long time indoors, and will also encourage additional blooming on the plants in the ground.

For plants that don’t need deadheading, be sure to check out this article.

Pruning Shasta Daisies Plant

The plant is relatively easy to prune. It has no real winter interest and most of the time the plant turns mushy during the winter, so pruning is a good idea to tidy up the garden area.

After the first frost that kills perennial foliage, cut the stems of the plant back to about an inch above the soil line. If you live in a warm hardiness zone, the plant may stay evergreen all year long.

Propagation of Shasta Daisies

Shasta daisy seeds are readily available and this is one of the most common methods of growing the plant. The plant grows from rhizomes, which spread under the soil, so the size of the clump can increase fairly quickly. To propagate existing plants, divide every 3-4 years in early spring or late summer.

Once your clump of Shasta daisy plants get to be about 3 years old, like many perennials, the plant will become woody and die out in the center.

To divide the plant, dig up the clump and discard the woody center. You will likely have two or three outer sections with more healthy young rhizomes. Replant these in your garden just below the crown of the new plants.

Be sure to check local regulations if you plan to grow Oxeyes. They are considered invasive and are banned in some states, since they grow TOO quickly.

Companion plants for Shasta Daisy

There are many perennials that will make nice companions for daisies. Since it has a white flowering habit, other more colorful cottage garden perennials will look great growing nearby.

Some popular choices of companion plants are:

  • Salvia
  • Bee Balm
  • Echinacea
  • Hollyhocks
  • Foxgloves
  • Daylilies

Special Features of Shasta Daisies

The plants are a great attraction for bees and butterflies. It is a deer resistant plant and makes great cutting garden flowers. The plant is great for both garden beds and containers.

Pests and Diseases

There are a few bugs that could be a problem for Shasta Daisies. Earwigs, and aphids will sometimes appear and slugs seem to enjoy them too.

As far as diseases go, leaf spots can also be an issue. Over-watering can cause fungal diseases. Generally speaking, most forms of daisies are low maintenance when it comes to pests and diseases.

Shasta Daisy Varieties

There are many varieties of Shasta Daisy available. Here are a few to try:

Silver Princess Shasta Daisy is prized for its smaller and more compact growth with large showy flowers. Shasta Daisy Becky offers more tolerance to southern and northern climates. Silver Princess Dwarf has large snow white daisies and grows to only 12″ tall with a 12″ spread. Nice compact size that is perfect for smaller garden spots and containers. Shasta Daisy ‘White Breeze’ has wide-open white daisies that appear the very first year from seed. Shasta Daisy Alaska grows to about 2 1/2 feet tall with very large flowers.

If you would like to be reminded of the care tips in this post, pin the image below to one of your gardening boards.

What is your favorite type of daisies? What is it that bothers you most about trying to grow them? I’d love to hear your comments below.

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Montauk Daisy

Cultivate some late-season color by tucking Montauk daisy into your garden. This perennial daisy lends an air of mystery to any garden with its multiple identities. Also known as Nippon daisy, this bloomer boasts a botanical pedigree that’s tough to track. Botanists were a bit puzzled and changed its scientific name three times, from Chrysanthemum nipponicum to Leucanthemum nipponicum to Nipponanthemum nipponicum. It’s definitely a daisy with pedigree.
The naming confusion doesn’t stop there. Montauk daisy earns its charming moniker from the town by the same name on Long Island, where this daisy has happily naturalized along the sandy shores. Originally, the plant hails from coastal regions of Japan, which birth the name of Nippon daisy. Why are these names worth mentioning? Because these native and naturalized environs give a clue to what kind of growing conditions this daisy likes: well-drained soil.
You’ll succeed with this late bloomer if you give it a spot with fast-draining soil. If your soil tends to be heavy and full of clay, consider growing Montauk daisy in raised beds. It will feel at home in a rock garden or a sloping site, both of which should deliver sharp drainage. Montauk or Nippon daisy tolerates salt spray and drought once established. Deer tend to leave it alone, as do rabbits, because it has a pungent odor. Many gardeners raise this bloomer to have fresh daisies for fall arrangements, but others find the musky odor a little overpowering indoors. Nonetheless, you’ll love the look of this daisy in your garden.
The trickiest part of growing Montauk daisy is pruning. Plants have a tendency to flop if left unpruned for the entire growing season. You’ll make the most of the fall flower show by pruning faithfully in spring through midsummer. For a strong fall bloom, prune plants to about 6 inches tall in early spring, with a second strong pruning in July. Some gardeners mow established plant colonies twice prior to July 4. Other gardeners combine regular pinching until July 4 with division every three years.
If you don’t pinch at all or prune just once, plants flower throughout summer. They also grow taller and bottom leaves yellow and drop prior to the main flower show in fall. If this is your garden strategy, skirt plants with another plant that helps hide the bare lower stems. Dusty miller can hold its own into fall, as can shorter ornamental grasses.
Montauk daisy blooms and leaves withstand frost, although foliage yellows after frost. A hard freeze takes out the plant. This daisy adores full sun and is reliably perennial in Zones 5 to 9. Plants usually form a mound that’s roughly 3 feet tall and wide. Nippon daisy doesn’t need heavy fertilizing. Just make sure soil drains well. This late-season daisy makes a great addition to a xeriscape garden or drought-tolerant landscape.

When to Prune Shasta Daisies

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Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum X superbum) are undemanding plants, but pruning encourages more flowers and stronger growth. These perennials grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9, and thrive in full sun and well-drained, alkaline soils. They benefit from pruning from mid-summer onward, and dividing plants also encourages healthy growth. Shasta daisies grow 2 to 3 feet tall and 1 1/2 to 2 feet wide, depending on the cultivar.

Fading Flowers

Pruning Shasta daisy blooms as they fade encourages more flowers. Shasta daisies can flower less after they set seed, but removing the flowers before seeds develop prompts the plants to bloom again. Sterilize your pruning shear blades by wiping them with rubbing alcohol, and prune Shasta daisies when their petals droop and turn brown. Hold the flower in one hand and feel down to the base of the flower stem with the other hand. Prune the stem at the base, and remove the other fading blooms in the same way. Sterilize your pruning shears again after use.

Summer Pruning

Shasta daises benefit from pruning when the earliest blooms start to fade. Check your Shasta daisies every week, and prune fading flowers until late summer or the end of blooming. If the soil surface is dry after pruning, water plants until the water begins to puddle on the ground, and feed them with a liquid 15-30-15 fertilizer, which encourages more blooms. Dilute the product at a rate of 1 tablespoon per 1 gallon of water and apply it every 14 days, or dilute and apply the product according to the instructions on the label.

Pruning Clumps

Severely pruning Shasta daisy clumps in early fall can prolong their lives. Shasta daisies are short-lived perennials, but removing their leaves and stems when flowering is over encourages strong growth, which helps plants store energy for winter. Prune Shasta daisies to 8 inches tall, using sterilized pruning shears, and put the trimmings on the compost pile or in the trash. If your plants are too tall and lanky, pinch out the tips of non-flowering stems with your thumb and forefinger in spring to encourage them to grow more compact and bushy.

Lifting and Dividing

Lift and divide Shasta daisies every two or three years to encourage strong, healthy growth and flowering. Dig up a Shasta daisy plant on a cool, cloudy day in winter or early spring by pushing a garden fork into the soil about 6 inches from the plant base and gently levering it up. Do this three or four times around the base until the root ball lifts out of the soil. Divide the plant into three sections by pushing a sharp spade down through the roots, and plant the sections 24 to 36 inches apart at their original growing depths. Water the plants thoroughly and continue to water them regularly so that the soil stays moist.

If You Cut Back Shasta Daisies Will They Rebloom?

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Perennials are durable plants that return to bloom year after year, and the Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) is especially dependable. While perennials require little care, regular maintenance keeps the plants healthy. Although cutting the Shasta daisy back may seem drastic and counterproductive, the reward is fuller, more vibrant plants the following year.

Benefits of Cutting Back

Like all perennials, the Shasta daisy shows its age by becoming thin and lanky. Cutting back annually revitalizes it, resulting in a healthy, more vibrant plant. Cutting back may even add more years to the life of the already long-lived plant. Growth is more vigorous, and the Shasta daisy will be more resistant to pests and disease. Cutting back also gives the garden an overall neater appearance.

When to Cut Back

Many gardeners prefer a neat garden created by cutting the Shasta daisy back after the plant is nipped by frost in autumn. Others like to wait until just before growth emerges in late winter or early spring, leaving the foliage in place to add texture to the garden throughout the winter. Waiting until spring also means that the seed heads and foliage are in place to provide food and shelter for hungry songbirds. While either time is appropriate, diseased or pest-infested plants should be cut back in autumn so the problems won’t continue into the new growing season.

How to Cut Back

Cutting back the Shasta daisy is a simple matter that involves cutting the plant down to within 6 inches of the ground. Cut diseased or insect-infested plants down to the ground. To cut back the Shasta daisy, use garden pruners, shears or any cutting tool you have on hand. If you have several plants, use a power trimmer or electric pruning shears.

Deadheading

Deadheading Shasta daisies is less drastic than cutting back, but is just as important for keeping your plant blooming its best. To deadhead, remove Shasta daisy blooms with pruning shears or your fingernails as soon as the flowers begin to fade. Once flowers begin to wilt, the plant naturally stops blooming and begins to produce seed. Deadheading tricks the flowers, which continue to bloom instead of going to seed prematurely.

Division

Dividing the Shasta daisy every two to three years is another way of keeping the plant youthful and vibrant, as old plants tend to die down and become woody in the center. Division also is a simple way of propagating new plants from mature plants. To divide the Shasta daisy, dig the entire plant, preserving as many roots as possible. Split the plant into smaller sections, then discard the old, woody center section. Replant the original Shasta daisy and plant the newer sections at a new location, or share them with fellow gardeners.

Know your Daisies

Choose wisely and sunny daisies can be cheering up your garden all year.

There are daisies for garden beds and for containers in warm colours and cool. Here are a handful of favourites.

Osteospermum ‘Blue-eyed beauty’. Photo – Dan Wheatley

African daisy

Osteospermum

Large, showy flowers with dark centres adorn these South African natives through spring and summer. Tolerant of full sun, some salt, mild drought and frost, they make colourful fillers and ground covers in cottage and coastal gardens. Most will reach 30-60cm tall in a loose bun shape. Prune to shape in autumn. A favourite is ‘Blue Eyed Beauty’ with yellow petals and an iridescent centre.

Australian daisy Brachyscome ‘Pacific Breeze’. Photo – Robin Powell

Australian daisy

Brachyscome

This spreading, bun-shaped native has yellow-centred, blue-lilac flowers for most of the year, with large flushes in spring and summer. Try it as a ground cover or container spill-over in full sun to part-shade. Many species and cultivars are available, most 10-30cm tall. For something different try ‘Pacific Coast’, a showy pink. Tip-prune spent blooms to promote more flowers.

Seaside daisy

Seaside daisy

Erigeron karvinskianus

This trailing ground cover plant, originally from Mexico, is covered throughout summer in white flowers that age to pink. It spot flowers at other times, and is tolerant of neglect, drought, second-line salt, swimming pool splash and root competition. Prune to shape after flowering. ‘Spindrift’ has a neat compact habit.

Federation Daisy

Federation daisy

Argyranthemum frutescens

Winter is peak flowering time for these single or double flowers in white, pink, yellow or red. They grow to 60cm high and wide, in full sun to part-shade. One plant will easily fill a good-sized pot. In the garden, mass-plant them for a showy display or to create a colourful informal hedge. Protect from strong winds and prune after flowering, by no more than one-third.

Everlasting Daisy. Photo – Robin Powell

Everlasting daisy

Bracteantha bracteata

Papery white, yellow, pink or orange flowers bloom from spring to autumn in a sunny spot. Plants range in size from 30cm-1m tall. Pick the flowers to enjoy them indoors, and to keep plants tidy. ‘Daisy Fields Gold’ has pretty lemon flowers.

Strawflower rhodanthe ‘Paper star’

Strawflower

Rhodanthe sp.

These native annuals and short-lived perennials flower white from pink buds, and their papery flowers last well in a vase. Full sun to part-shade and good drainage will ensure they reach 15-30cm tall and wide. Cast seed in autumn to create drifts of flowers in spring. We prefer perennial types such as ‘Paper Star’ and ‘Paper Baby’.

Shasta daisy. Photo – Vahan Abrahamyan /

Shasta daisy

Leucanthemum x superbum

Annual and perennial daisies with golden centres and white ray florets, these flower from late spring to autumn, forming large clumps in sunny positions with moist, well-drained soil. Use them to fill out borders and cottage gardens. Grow from seed, cuttings or self-layering. Prune in autumn, after flowering. Excellent cut flower.

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