How to Grow Painted Daisy

Bright pink daisy like flowers with bright yellow centers
The painted daisy provides a long-lasting burst of color in the summer garden.

Joel Dinda / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The painted daisy is a colorful perennal that provides weeks of vibrant color in the garden. Though there are several varieties of flower in the Tanacetum species (including feverfew and tansy) the flower commonly referred to as "painted daisy" is the brightly colored one known as Tanacetum coccineum. It was formerly known as Chrysanthemum coccineum. It has a classic daisy like structure, with a circle of petals surrounding a dense round center; the leaves are somewhat ferny in appearance. Growing to an average height of two feet tall, it can be grown easily in flower beds or in containers. The painted daisy flowers in late spring, making it a perfect solution for those spots that become suddenly empty when spring bulbs stop blooming.

Colorful Cultivars

The palette of colors available, including shades of red, white, and pink, make it an easy-to-use accent for color in the early to late summer garden. One of the most popular cultivars is "Brenda," which has large bright magenta flowers with yellow centers. "Mrs. James Kelway" starts out with creamy white petals that turn pale pink as they mature. "Mont Blanc" features white petals with yellow centers; all three of these grow to 24 inches tall. "Eileen May Robinson" is a pale pink variety that can grow up to 30 inches tall. "Robinson's Crimson" features bright crimson petals with yellow centers, and is slightly smaller, with a maximum height of 18 inches.

A Useful Pollinator Plant

An added benefit of planting painted daisies in the garden is their natural insect repellent properties. This makes the painted daisy a valuable plant for the vegetable garden as well as the flower bed. They're also relatively deer resistant. The only insects not kept away by painted daisy are leaf miners or aphids. These can be deterred using organic substances such as soap spray or neem oil.

Painted daisies are loved by butterflies and make a handsome addition to butterfly gardens or cottage style gardens that rely on a steady stream of color throughout three seasons. It looks especially beautiful paired with colorful butterfly-friendly flowers with more delicate shapes and textures to balance its simple, bold form, such as globe thistle, snapdragons, bee balm, phlox, hummingbird mint, veronica, coreopsis, and campanula. The stem of the painted daisy is sturdy and it makes an excellent cut flower for arrangements.

Scientific Name Tanacetum coccineum
Common Name Painted daisy, pyrethrum
Plant Type  Herbaceous perennial
Mature Size   1 to 3 feet
Sun Exposure  Partial to full sun
Soil Type   Well drained, loamy
Soil pH  Neutral to slightly acidic 
Bloom Time   Late spring, summer
Flower Color   Red, pink, yellow, white, purple
Hardiness Zones   USDA 3 to 7
Native Areas   Southwestern Asia
Toxicity   Not toxic to ingest; mild skin irritant
Bright hot pink flower with yellow center
The painted daisy cultivar "Brenda" has magenta pink petals.

Danielle Carrier /Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Planting Painted Daisy

This plant may be grown from seeds or propagated from cuttings in early spring. Plant seeds indoors in fertile potting mix from 4-6 weeks before last frost date. They can then be planted outside once danger of frost is past and, once established, will become reliable perennials. You can also direct sow seeds in the garden after the last frost date; sow in well drained rich soil and cover lightly with 1/8 inch soil. Keep moist until seedlings appear. Thin the seedlings as needed and plant the flowers 18 to 24 inches apart.

You can also obtain nursery plants in early spring. This is a plant that likes to be "pinched" to encourage more flowers, much like mums. Simply pinch back new growth (no more than an inch at a time) when the plants are between 6-8 inches tall. As they grow taller, cease pinching and you'll notice more flower buds will form than without the pinching method. Deadheading the spent blooms will keep the plant looking neat and encourage new buds.

Optimum Growing Conditions

Light

The painted daisy loves sun but grows quite happily in partial sun. Growing in pots means you can move it into sunnier spots during the growing season.

Soil

The painted daisy not too fussy about soil but prefers a well-drained loamy, sandy soil that is not too acidic. Since the painted daisy is so hardy, and not overly susceptible to pests, it can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, as long as it has good drainage. No fertilizing is necessary, but a top dressing of composted manure in the autumn will help keep the root system healthy.

Water

This plant is fairly adaptable and regular water from rain in temperate zones keeps it happy. If there's a dry period of more than a week, give it a good drink to keep it happy and blooming. It doesn't do well in wet areas or standing water so select a spot with good drainage.

Toxicity

The painted daisy is not toxic to ingest, but sometimes handling the plant with bare hands can sometimes cause mild skin irritation, so be sure to wear gloves.