Many spring gardens are dominated by pansies, daffodils, and tulips, but the English daisy (Bellis perennis) 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 can struggle to control the vigorous flowers, which thrive in mild conditions.
Container gardening is always an option to control the plants, and they make charming potted companions for minor bulbs like grape hyacinths or Dutch iris. The unique red, white, and pink rounded flowers with a yellow eye bloom in the spring to early summer above a basal rosette of spoon-shape leaves and tend to be fast-growing. If growing them from seed, plant them indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost.
Native to Europe, this plant has become invasive in parts of the northern United States and West Coast.
|Common Name||English daisy, common daisy, lawn daisy|
|Botanical Name||Bellis perennis|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous perennial, but a biennial in the southern US and an annual in the northern US|
|Mature Size||6–12 inches tall, 6–12 inches wide|
|Soil Type||Loamy, moist|
|Soil pH||Acidic, neutral, alkaline|
|Bloom Time||Spring, summer|
|Flower Color||Red, white, pink|
|Hardiness Zones||4–9 (USDA)|
English Daisy Care
Technically, the English daisy is a perennial, but it is a biennial in the southern United States and is grown as an annual in the northern United States, where plants are usually discarded after one season of bloom. Gardeners looking for quick color should purchase plants already in bloom. Plants do seed themselves freely, setting the stage for future blooms.
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.
English daisies do well in full sun to partial shade, a minimum of four to six hours of sunlight per day. In hotter zones, a break from the afternoon sun will keep them blooming longer.
English daisy grows best in organically rich, loamy soil with good drainage. These plants prefer the same soil conditions in which roses and vegetables thrive. English daisies tolerate acidic, neutral, or alkaline soil pH.
English daisies are not drought-tolerant and need regular watering to stay in bloom. Cool, moist soil keeps the plants perky but they don't like soggy conditions.
Temperature and Humidity
Cool temperatures are necessary for English daisy to thrive. In areas with cool summers, the plants might bloom throughout the season and spread into prolific colonies. Damp conditions are welcome, including high humidity.
If 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.
English Daisy Varieties
Varieties of English daisies include:
- 'Galaxy' is a series that grows into a dense carpet and produces red, white, or rose flowers with a yellow eye.
- 'Pomponette' produces flowers in a mix of colors with quilled petals and an almost spherical shape.
- 'Tasso Pink' have bubblegum-pink pompon blooms.
- 'Habanera White with Red Tips': This striking variety produces white pompons with red tips and a swirl of petals at the center where the eye would be.
Pruning and deadheading are not necessary for English daisies and does not increase blooming. When plants stop blooming it is usually due to high temperatures, not due to seed formation.
Propagating English Daisy
In areas with cool summers, English daisies propagate themselves by spreading crowns and re-seeding. You can also dig and divide the plants in spring or fall to take advantage of the plant's exuberance. Here's how it's done:
- Lift the entire plant out of the ground with a shovel.
- Use a pruner or spade to divide the plant in two or more sections.
- Replant each plant division in a new location.
- Keep well-watered and you will see new growth in a few weeks.
How to Grow English Daisy From Seed
Sow seeds indoors six to eight weeks before your last average frost date. Press them into the soil but do not cover them with soil because they need light to germinate. Seeds will sprout in two to three weeks at room temperature. Transplant seedlings outdoors as soon as the soil can be worked.
Potting and Repotting English Daisy
Take advantage of the hardy nature of English daisies by potting up any second-year volunteers in the early spring. They tend to be larger than first-year plants which might only produce foliage. Use any standard potting soil, and choose a container with large drain holes. Discard plants in the summer when blooming is finished, and repot new plants the following season for fresh blooms.
English daisies are hardy to USDA zone 4 and need no winter protection. There is no point in keeping potted plants after they bloom, as they are at the end of their life cycle.
How to Get English Daisies to Bloom
When English daisies don't bloom, it could be due to three things: They are first-year plants so you need to wait another year to see them bloom. It could be a lack of sun, they need four to six hours of daily sunlight. Or, they could be getting too much nitrogen (a quick-release liquid high-phosphorus fertilizer could remedy that).
Common Pests and Plant Diseases
Thrips and leaf miners might 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.
If they don't receive enough water, English daisies tend to wilt. They don't do well in dry conditions and need regular watering in the absence of rain.
Are English daisies weeds?
For some people, English daisies are a noxious weed that appears as an unwelcome guest in their landscape, while others appreciate their cheerful flowers and grow them intentionally.
How often do English daisies bloom?
In some areas of the United States, they are biennials and bloom only once, in their second year. In northern states, they are grown as annuals.
How do you keep English daisies from spreading?
After they bloom and before the flowers produce seeds, remove the entire plant and discard it, which prevents it from reseeding itself.