Many spring gardens are dominated by pansies and blooming bulbs like tulips, but the English daisy is another outstanding flower to bring early cheer to the landscape. Depending on your region, the English daisy may be seen as a welcome harbinger of spring, or an invasive pest that takes over the lawn and garden. British gardeners and those in the Pacific Northwest may struggle to control the vigorous flowers, which thrive in mild conditions. Container gardening is always an option to limit the plants, and they make cute potted companions for minor bulbs like grape hyacinths or Dutch iris.
|Botanical Name||Bellis perennis|
|Common Name||English daisy, common daisy, lawn daisy|
|Mature Size||Six to 12 inches tall|
|Sun Exposure||Partial sun|
|Soil Type||Moist and loamy|
|Flower Color||Red, white, pink|
|Hardiness Zones||USDA growing zones 4-8|
How to Grow English Daisies
The English daisy has a biennial life cycle, which means it germinates and produces foliage the first year, and then blooms the following spring. Gardeners looking for quick color should purchase plants already in bloom. Although the plants won't bloom a third season, they do seed themselves freely, setting the stage for future blooms.
English daisies do well with four to six hours of sunlight per day. In hotter zones, a break from the afternoon sun will keep them blooming longer.
Provide rich, loamy soil with good drainage for English daisy plants. These plants like the same kind of soil conditions that roses and vegetables thrive in. English daisies tolerate a wide pH range, from acidic to alkaline.
English daisies are not drought tolerant, and need regular watering to stay in bloom. Cool, moist soil keeps plants perky, as long as the plants don't have wet feet from soggy conditions.
Temperature and Humidity
Cool temperatures are necessary for thriving English daisy plants. In areas with cool summers, the plants may bloom throughout the season, and spread into prolific colonies. Damp conditions are welcome, including high humidity.
If your soil is especially rocky and poor, you can apply an all-purpose slow release flower fertilizer to your English daisies in the early spring. The plants are not heavy feeders, and can extract what they need from rich soils.
Potting and Repotting
Take advantage of the hardy nature of English daisies by potting up any volunteers for some instant color on your deck or porch. Use any standard potting soil, and choose a container with a drainage hole. Only pot up second year plants in early spring, as these are prepared to bloom, while first year plants will produce only foliage. Discard plants in summer when blooming is finished, and repot new plants the following season for fresh blooms.
Propagating English Daisies
In areas with cool summers, English daisies propagate themselves by spreading crowns. You can dig and divide the plants in spring or fall to take advantage of your plants' exuberance.
Varieties of English Daisy
The 'Galaxy' series produce red, white, or rose flowers with a yellow eye growing as a dense carpet. 'Pomponette' plants produce flowers in a mix of colors with quilled petals and an almost spherical shape. 'Tasso Pink' is an heirloom type with bubblegum-pink pompon blooms. 'Habanera Red Tips' produces white poms with red tips and a swirl of petals at the center where the eye would be.
Toxicity of English Daisy
English daisies have no known toxic effects. In fact, the leaves are sometimes added to spring salad mixes.
Pruning and deadheading is not necessary for English daisies, and does not increase blooming. When plants stop blooming it is usually due to high temperatures, not to seed formation.
Being Grown in Containers
Container culture is a great way to bring the cheerful blooms of English daisies up to eye level. Combine them with other cool weather spring flowers, like pansies, snapdragons, or violets. Container gardening also prevents the spread of English daisies in cool summer areas, where they can become invasive.
Growing From Seeds
Sow seeds indoors six to eight weeks before your last frost. Press them into the soil but do not cover, as they need light to germinate. Seeds will sprout in two to three weeks at room temperature. Transplant outdoors as soon as the soil can be worked.
Thrips and leaf miners may feed on English daisy plants as temperatures warm up. This feeding often coincides with summer plant decline, and any plants that look shabby at this point can be removed.
English Daisy vs Shasta Daisy
The Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) is a beloved summer-blooming perennial that yields four-foot tall flowers on perennial plants. Unlike the English daisy, Shasta daisies prefer a more dry setting than English daisies, as wet winters can cause them to perish. Although they are perennials, the hybrid Shasta daisy is not a long-lived plant, and may cease to return after three or four years no matter the growing conditions.