How to Grow and Care for the Oxeye Daisy

Welcome this perennial wildflower to your garden and let it roam freely

Top view of Oxeye Daisies blooming in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia (Stock photo)

Simon Long / Getty Images

Oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) is a perennial wildflower considered to be especially cheerful and mystical in the eyes of many plant lovers. Growing on roadsides and woodland edges across North America, this Europe and Asia native can roam freely in the garden and add a touch of the mystical to many landscapes. Part of the Asteraceae family, also known as the Aster family, the flower heads look similar to the Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) but they are smaller, measuring only two inches across. The Latin name Leucanthemum likely originated from the ancient Greek word "leucos," which means white, as blooms come in a bright white showcasing a bold goldish-yellow center. Particularly in France, the oxeye daisy was thought to be connected to divination. Around this theme of divine timing and wisdom, petals are still picked to play the modern game of "he loves me, he loves me not" to determine luck in love.

Growing erect in form, plants grow 1-3 ft. tall and 1-2 ft. wide. This herbaceous perennial has broadleaf evergreen foliage that is finely textured. Leaves measure one to 1-5 in. across, toothed and deeply cut, with the longer leaves at the plant's base. Flowers bloom from May to August, the flattened yellow center disk resembling the eye of an ox. Each flower measures 1-3 in. in diameter and has 7-20 petals. Stems are thin and 1-2 ft. tall, usually branching to produce two or more flower heads. Showy flowers make good, long-lasting, cut specimens in bouquets or on their own in vases of water.

Botanical Name Leucanthemum vulgare (previously known as Chrysanthemum leucanthemum)
Common Name Oxeye daisy, moon daisy, mayweed, white daisy, whiteweed, field daisy, marguerite, poorland flower
Plant Type Herbaceous perennial wildflower
Mature Size 1 to 3 ft. tall, 1 to 2 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full sun to part shade
Soil Type Coarse and medium-textured, well-drained
Soil pH Mildly acidic to neutral (5.2 to 7)
Bloom Time May through August
Flower Color White with gold yellow centers
Hardiness Zones 3a to 8a, USDA
Native Area Europe to Russian Far East and Caucasus
Toxicity Highly toxic to insect herbivores

Oxeye Daisy Care

This wildflower is easy to plant. Sow seeds in late winter or early spring. Space them 12 inches to 3 feet apart. Welcome seeds, seedlings, or mature plants in perennial beds and borders, in a cottage garden, a wildflower patch, or in a moon garden where the white blooms will shine in the moonlight. Oxeye daisy can also be planted in a meadow, a naturalized area, near septic, or around a patio if there is room for it to grow freely. Welcome a constant visit of butterflies by pairing it with other pollinator-friendly perennial flowers. Because it can be invasive, the oxeye daisy often escapes garden plantings. Cutting, mowing, trampling, and grazing actually promotes the establishment of this plant.

Invasive Tendencies

Oxeye daisy is classified as invasive, a noxious weed, in some areas. It can become abundant in disturbed areas, but it is not as much of a threat in high quality, native habitats. The plant is on the Washington State quarantine list.

Light

Establish in a sunny spot, preferably full sun. It can also grow in part sun or afternoon shade especially in hot, humid climates.

Soil

Sow seeds in average, well-draining soil. Plants can also grow in drier, sandy soil.

Water

Because the oxeye daisy is drought-tolerant, let the soil dry out between waterings. Seeds, however, should be consistently moist while they sprout. After that, decrease watering to one to two inches per week.

Temperature

Oxeye daisy can survive temperatures as low as 28 degrees Fahrenheit. It needs 130 frost-free days to grow, reproduce, and thrive.

Is Oxeye Daisy Toxic?

The oxeye daisy is not known to be poisonous, but it contains polyacetylenes and thiophenes that are highly toxic to insect herbivores. Grazing animals tend to avoid the plant because it has a disagreeable odor (though some people perceive the plant to smell like sage).

Pruning

To encourage more blooms, deadhead the flowers regularly.

To prevent the oxeye daisy from becoming invasive, remove plants before they produce seeds. Be sure to pull plants out by their roots. Since oxeye daisies have a shallow root system, they are easy to pull out completely. Mow any unwanted seedlings before they get too big. Then spread mulch on the ground. This will prevent new seeds from sprouting. You can also use a lawn-safe herbicide dedicated to oxeye daisies.

Propagation

Plants spread by rhizomes. Divide them every two or three years or propagate by root cuttings.

How to Grow from Seed

Oxeye daisy can also spread by seeds, which are tufted and dispersed by the wind and in dung. These seeds can be moved with timber, contaminated forage grass, and legume seed, too, and typically remain viable for 20 years (sometimes up to 39 years) in the soil without requiring cold-stratification. If starting seed purposefully, note that seedling germination is most successful with increased light and soil moisture.

Common Pests and Diseases

Keep an eye out for the occasional aphids, mites and leaf miners. Oxeye daisies are also susceptible to verticillium wilt, leaf spots and stem rots. Overall, though, they are very hardy - resistant to the challenges of many other common diseases as well as deer and rabbits.