Swan River daisy (Brachyscome iberidifolia) is a native to Australia, and it's grown in gardens all over North America. This herbaceous plant is considered a hardy perennial in USDA zones 9 to 11, but it is grown as a cheery annual in zones 2 through 8. Its easy-going nature and long blooming season (from summer through fall) makes it a popular addition to flower gardens, rock gardens, and container gardens.
Swan River daisy comes in a variety of colors: lavender, blue, pink, and white, with a center disk of yellow or black. These plants grow in a mounded shape with fine, leafy foliage and flower stalks that reach 12 to 18 inches in height. Each blossom is about an inch in diameter, but what the flowers lack in size the plant makes up for with an abundance of blooms.
|Common Name||Swan River daisy|
|Botanical Name||Brachyscome iberidifolia|
|Plant Type||Perennial, annual|
|Mature Size||12-18 in. tall and wide|
|Bloom Time||Summer, fall|
|Flower Color||Blue, purple, violet pink, white|
|Hardiness Zones||9-11 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Western and southern Australia|
Swan River Daisy Care
You don't need a green thumb to grow Swan River daisies, but you will need a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Start this plant in the spring either from seed or with nursery stock.
This drought-tolerant plant doesn't require much in the way of water, but has trouble blooming in overly hot and humid conditions. Fertilization is only needed for nutrient-poor soil, and regular deadheading will ensure prolific blooms throughout the season.
Choose Swan River daisies for container gardens, where they spill over the sides of the container, to cover large portions of a garden bed, or as a colorful edging to a flower bed. In the fall, dig up your daises and bring them indoors for the winter, and then, relocate them outdoors the next spring.
Like most daisies, Swan River daisy is best planted in a sunny location. This plant will bloom and thrive in a location with six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day. Swan River daisy can survive in partly shady conditions, however, the blooms won't be as plentiful or last as long.
Swan River daisy requires rich, moist soil for vibrant growth and colorful flowers. That said, this plant can tolerate average, or even poor, soil conditions, but growth and bloom production may suffer. For best results, amend your soil so that the pH lands somewhere between 6.0 and 8.0. The most steadfast requirement for this daisy is well-drained soil because overly moist soil can cause root rot or flopping.
Once mature, Swan River daisy typically does well relying on rainfall. However, during drought periods, you'll need to supplement by applying one to two inches of water per week. If the soil is sandy and extremely well-drained, increase this amount enough to eliminate wilt. Ensure that the soil dries completely in between waterings to avoid root rot and fungal infections.
Temperature and Humidity
An annual plant in USDA zones 2 to 8, Swan River daisy performs well in a wide range of temperatures. It is hardy enough to withstand bouts of heat and drought, but might show signs of wilting or drooping in extremely hot and humid conditions. The preferred temperature range for this plant is 50 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
In USDA cold hardiness zones 9 to 11, Swan River daisy is considered a perennial, assuming winter temperatures are mild enough for this plant to retain its viability. Blooms will taper off if a frost occurs, but the finely textured gray-green foliage will continue to give you aesthetic pleasure all winter long.
Determining whether or not you need to fertilize your Swan River daisy begins with understanding your current soil situation. Overfertilization can burn the roots, and too much nitrogen can contribute to leggy growth.
Amend poor soil conditions before planting with organic material like leaf mold and well-aged compost. Then, a weekly dose of slow-release organic fertilizer is recommended, steering clear of high nitrogen products, and instead opting for one that encourages bloom (high in phosphorus). Follow the amount recommended on the package and decrease it slightly to avoid overfertilization.
Types of Swan River Daisies
Several varieties of the Swan River daisy feature different colors and growth patterns. Choosing the correct one depends on your gardening goals and space. Here are a few gardener's favorites:
- The Brachycome 'Blue Zephyr' variety features purple petals with a significantly blue color tone. This type matures to about 12 inches in height, making it a good choice for planter boxes or garden borders where it won’t overpower its surroundings.
- Brachycome iberidifolia 'Summer Skies' bears flowers of lavender and white and grows to a height of 12 inches. This variety flowers the same year it is sown and makes a great addition to a pollinator garden.
Swan River daisy usually requires a midsummer pruning to encourage bushy new growth and to revive the plant, priming it for a fall bloom. During the heat of the summer and after the first bloom, trim the plant back to half its height. Deadheading is also helpful during the flowering period. Pinching off spent flowers or cutting flowers in their prime for enjoyment indoors will stimulate the production of more blooms.
Propagating Swan River Daisies
Propagating Swan River daisy by cuttings is a relatively easy and economical way to multiply your plant for enjoyment in a container or in another part of the garden. Cuttings should be taken just before the flowering period with the hopes of getting a fall bloom once the new plants mature.
Here's how to propagate Swan River daisy from cuttings:
- Gather garden shears, a sharp razor blade, and alcohol wipes.
- Clean your shears and blade with the wipes and allow them to dry.
- Trim a shoot from the plant that includes at least one node and two healthy leaves. (Do so before the active flowering stage because the plant will have more stored energy in its root system and will better recover from having a shoot removed.)
- Use the blade to make a single cut through the center of the node.
- Place the shoot in water or a moist, soil-less potting mix, making sure to keep it moist until germination.
- Swan River daisy cuttings will root in about 15 days. When they grow two sets of leaves, they are ready for transplanting into a container or in the garden.
How to Grow Swan River Daisy From Seed
To propagate Swan River daisy from seed, you’ll need to collect the seeds from the flower's center. To do so, snip the bloom from its stalk once it has started to fade. Place the flower inside a paper bag or on a paper towel and wait for it to dry completely before harvesting the fine, small seeds from its disc.
Save the seeds in a cool, dark, watertight location. Then, start the seeds four to six weeks before the average last frost date in your area by planting them indoors on a seed tray filled with a layer of seed-starting mix. Keep the medium moist until the seeds germinate in 10 to 18 days. You can make the most of the plant’s bloom cycle by sowing your seeds in phases spaced two to four weeks apart.
Potting and Repotting
With bushy foliage and plenty of blooms, use Swan River daisy to spruce up your patio, deck, or porch by planting it in a container. Use a terracotta or clay pot with adequate drainage holes and fill it with an all-purpose potting soil containing vermiculite.
Water the pot, and allow the water to drain thoroughly before relocating it to its permanent sunny location. Container-grown daisies will benefit from an organic, slow-release, phosphorus-rich fertilizer applied a few times during the growing season. Deadhead flowers in pots, just as you would in the garden to encourage more blooms.
Because Swan River daisies are typically grown as annuals, you will need to dig them up and bring them indoors should you want to overwinter the plant. To do so, trim off the dead growth, dig up the root ball, and then relocate it to a pot with ample drainage and porous soil. Bring the pot indoors and place it in a sunny window. Continue growing your daisy indoors, but don't expect it to bloom in the winter. Come spring, relocate it outdoors after all threat of frost has passed.
Daisies grown in zones 9 through 11 can be cut back to the ground to overwinter in your garden bed.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
The Swan River daisy rarely falls victim to pests, especially when cared for as an annual. That said, slugs and snails have been known to munch on the plant's leaves at night. To deter them, place coffee grounds, eggshells, or slug deterrent at the base of the plant to ward off offenders.
Powdery mildew and foliar fungal disease can move into an unkempt crop of Swan River daisies. To prevent this, make sure to allow ample space between the plants and don't overwater them. If a fungus moves in, trim the infected plants to open up the airflow and dry out the soil. This should remedy the situation unless it's too advanced. Chemical fungal treatments are rarely helpful.
How to Get Swan River Daisy to Bloom
Like all daisies, swan river daisy needs ample sunlight for prolific blooms. Daisies grown in shady conditions might need to be relocated if flowers production is sparse. With this cultivar, sowing seeds at a staggered rate of every two weeks will give you continuous blooms in your garden throughout the season. Also, deadheading spent flowers during the blooming period will stimulate the plant to bloom more.
Common Problems With Swan River Daisy
Swan River daisy does not thrive in hot and humid conditions. If temperatures and humidity become extreme, this plant can wilt, slow its bloom, or stop blooming altogether in an effort to conserve its energy. In addition to slow growth and bloom, humid conditions can also cause root rot if the soil stays consistently wet.
What is the native habitat of Swan River daisy?
Swan River daisy is native to Australia and grows wild in sandy or clay soil, on sandy hills, in the plains, along rivers and streams, and among granite outcroppings.
Does Swan River daisy come in colors other than blue or purple?
Swan River daisy is most commonly seen in blue and purple, but cultivars are also available in pink and white with either yellow or black centers.
How did Swan River daisy get its name?
The flower's common name is derived from its native habitat along the banks of the Swan River in Australia, which is where the plant was first discovered. Its scientific name, Brachycome, comes from the Greek word brachys, meaning "short," and kome, meaning "hair."