Named after the snowy peaks of Mount Shasta in California, the Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) is a hardy hybrid developed in the 1800s by crossing the oxeye daisy with several wild daisy varieties. Today, there are 69 unique cultivars of the Shasta Daisy, according to the Royal Horticulture Society. There are both single and double petal varieties and the size of the plant varies by cultivar, but they all sport cheerful, white blooms with yellow centers. These plants have thick, leathery, deep green foliage. In warm climates, the foliage is considered evergreen and will remain year-round.
The blooms of Shasta daisies attract butterflies and pollinators. It is best to plant these flowers in the early spring or summer, particularly in colder climates. Shasta daisies planted in the fall may not become established before the cold winter arrives, jeopardizing the plant’s survival. Once established, they are vigorous growers and easily spread via rhizomes. They make lovely, long-lasting cut flowers. According to the ASPCA, daisies are toxic to dogs and cats.
|Common Name||Shasta daisy|
|Botanical Name||Leucanthemum × superbum|
|Mature Size||9 in.-3 ft. tall, 1-2 ft. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full, partial|
|Soil Type||Loamy, moist but well-drained|
|Bloom Time||Spring, summer|
|Hardiness Zones||5-9, USA|
|Native Area||North America|
|Toxicity||Toxic to pets|
Shasta Daisy Care
Shasta daisies are quite hardy and do not require much attention once established. They can be grown in both full sun or partial shade and can tolerate varying soil conditions, as long as it is well-draining. They are deer-resistant, drought-resistant, and do not often struggle with many pests or diseases.
Shasta daisies are short-lived perennials. This means that they only live for a few years. To keep Shasta daisy plants on display year after year, introduce additional plants into the garden bed on a yearly basis.
These perennials love sunshine and thrive in full sun settings. However, Shasta daisy varieties adapt well to areas of partial sun and can tolerate a bit of shade. Keep in mind that plants grown in full sun will produce more blooms.
Rich, fertile soil will ensure a hardy, healthy blooming season. However, Shasta daisies can survive in poor soil conditions as well. They do best in soil rich with organic matter, such as compost. This not only provides the needed nutrients but also ensures adequate soil drainage, another key factor for the health of these plants. Shasta daisies cannot tolerate soggy soil and must be planted in an area with well-draining soil.
Shasta daisies enjoy moist conditions, as long as the soil is well-drained. Because they are sensitive to soggy soil and overwatering, it is best to err on the side of underwatering rather than overwatering. Once established, Shasta daisies are considered drought-tolerant for short periods of time. Provide these daisies with about an inch of water every week to keep them healthy and hydrated.
Temperature and Humidity
Shasta daisies are very hardy and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels. They can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9. However, they do not handle extremely humid areas, since this can contribute to overly wet soil conditions that may cause rot.
Because Shasta daisies prefer rich, fertile soil, it can be beneficial to add fertilizer to these plants every year. Compost or other organic material is a great way to fertilize shasta daisies. Add it in the spring to provide these plants with a boost of nutrients heading into the blooming season. Alternatively, you can apply a well-balanced fertilizer on a monthly basis throughout the summer.
Types of Shasta Daisies
- ‘Becky’: This cultivator is one of the largest, reaching 3 to 4 feet tall. Though tall, this variety has sturdy stems and does not need staking.
- ‘Snow Lady’: The ‘Snow Lady’ is a dwarf variety that only grows 9 to 12 inches tall. Even with their tiny size, these daisies produce an abundance of flowers throughout spring and summer.
- ‘Crazy Daisy’: As suggested by its name, ‘Crazy Daisy’ produces double blooms with twisty petals. This variety reaches up to 2 1/2 feet tall.
Propagating Shasta Daisies
The best form of propagation for these plants is division. This will not only produce more plants, but will help increase the lifespan of Shasta daisies. Ideally, it is best to divide the plant every two years or so in the spring or early fall after the daisies have finished blooming. To divide Shasta daisies you will need gloves, a large shovel, a hand shovel, and a sharp pair of garden snips.
- Using the large shovel, gently loosen the soil around the whole plant, going in a circle until the root system is loosened.
- Once the roots can be lifted from the ground, remove the entire plant.
- Using the shovels and the snips, divide the plant by cutting through the root system. Be sure each division has healthy roots and foliage.
- Plant the daisy back into the ground.
- Move each division to its own location, preparing the soil first by adding compost.
How to Grow Shasta Daisies From Seed
Growing the seeds from a Shasta daisy can be a fun project. It is important to note, though, that the seeds may revert back to one of the original daisy types, such as the oxeye daisy. The oxeye daisy can be invasive, so it is important to keep a check on this.
If you would like to grow these plants from seed, they can be started both indoors and outdoors.
For outdoor sowing, follow these directions:
- In the spring or early fall, sow the seed in fertile, well-draining soil. Refer to the specific cultivator growing instructions for spacing. It is best to sow a few seeds in each spot. Be sure not to bury the seeds completely, as they need light to germinate.
- Once germinated, thin out the seedlings, keeping only the strongest and healthiest looking.
- Water regularly until the seedlings are established.
To start Shasta daisies indoors, follow these instructions:
- About 6 to 10 weeks before the last frost, prepare small pots with rich soil.
- Gently press the daisy seeds into the moist soil. Do not cover the seeds completely, as they need light to germinate.
- Place them in a sunny location and keep the soil evenly moist.
- Once germinated, thin the seedlings, keeping only the strongest and healthiest.
- Once the threat of frost is gone, slowly harden off the seedlings to prepare them for the garden.
- When they are strong enough to stay outdoors, plant them in their permanent locations.
Potting and Repotting the Shasta Daisy
With such a variety of cultivators available, it is important to know that the mature size of each cultivator is vastly different. Some dwarf varieties stay under a foot tall, making them perfect for small pots, such as on an outdoor table. Others reach up to four feet tall and must be kept in large containers. Be sure to choose a pot appropriate for your daisy’s mature size. Daisies must be grown in pots with drainage holes, as soggy soil can cause rot. Once a proper pot is selected, fill it with rich, fertile soil.
Potted daisies enjoy compost or fertilizer and regular watering, as these plants do not have access to underground nutrients or water sources. Place the pot in a sunny or slightly shaded area and keep the soil slightly moist. If the daisy outgrows the pot, gently loosen the roots from the pot and divide the plant.
In areas with warm winters, Shasta daisy foliage can be kept as year-round greenery. For areas with cold winters, the Shasta daisy requires a bit of overwintering protection. Once the plant begins to fade in the fall, prune the foliage to near ground level. Then cover the plant with an extra layer of mulch to provide protection from the cold temperatures.
How to Get Shasta Daisy Plants to Bloom
Shasta daisy flowers can reach anywhere from nine inches to four feet in height with each bloom spanning several inches. Like other daisy varieties, they have an iconic flower shape with a bright yellow center and long, white petals. These perennials bloom during the summer months for several years.
To encourage abundant blooming, be sure to deadhead spent blooms throughout the growing season. This will encourage the plant to produce more flowers. Because Shasta daisies are short-lived perennials, it is best to plant additional daisies each year to keep the daisy patch full and blooming. This prevents any lulls in blooming as the older plants fade away.
Common Problems With the Shasta Daisy
Shasta daisies are tough perennials and do not often run into many problems. However, the most common problems these daisies encounter are rot and wilt.
Acremonium and verticillium wilt may affect daisy plants. Both wilts have similar symptoms and cause yellowing, drooping, dropping foliage. Verticillium wilt often hits during cool temperatures and spreads from the basal leaves to the outer leaves. Acremonium wilt likes soggy soil and often appears on one side of a plant. To get rid of wilt, remove and discard any diseased leaves and roots. Keep daisies in a sunny location and only water when needed.
Rot, such as root rot, thrives in humid, wet environments. This can cause stems to wilt and die. If you suspect your plant has root rot, gently dig up the plant and cut away any infected roots and foliage. Make sure the soil is well-draining, then plant the healthy sections only. Discard diseased plants.
Do Shasta daisies come back every year?
Yes, Shasta daisies are considered short-lived perennials. Therefore, these bright white flowers come back yearly for several years before the plant declines.
Does the Shasta daisy require full sun?
Shasta daisies will benefit from full sun conditions, but can also be grown in partially shaded areas. Just be sure to keep them out of full shade.
What months do Shasta daisy plants bloom?
Each cultivar will have slightly differing bloom times. Some Shasta daisies bloom as early as late spring and others will bloom into the fall.
Hawke, Richard G., and Plant Evaluation Manager. “A Report on Leucanthemum ×superbum and Related Daisies.” Chicagobotanic.Org, https://www.chicagobotanic.org/downloads/planteval_notes/no30_leucanthemum.pdf.
“Daisy.” Aspca.Org, https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/daisy.
“A Dangerous Ornamental: Oxeye Daisy - Lassen Volcanic National Park (U.s. National Park Service).” Nps.Gov, https://www.nps.gov/lavo/learn/nature/invasive-oxeye-daisy.htm.