The Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) is a perennial flower with white and yellow flower heads that grows best in garden hardiness zones 5 through 9. The Shasta daisy is easily confused with its relative, the oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), which is considered a weed because of its rapid and invasive growth profile. The Shasta daisy, however, is a hybrid plant that is naturally noninvasive, with larger flowers on a more compact body.
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The Shasta daisy is a hybrid plant originally created by the famed horticulturalist Luther Burbank. In 1884 Burbank purchased land in Santa Rosa, California, and began an experiment to create a daisy with a longer lifespan and higher bloom rate. By combining the oxeye daisy with the English, Portuguese, and Japanese field daisies, Burbank achieved his goal. He named his creation the Shasta daisy, after a mountain peak in California, and offered the first variety for sale in 1901.
Shasta daisies provide abundant blooms from June to first frost. The blooms are excellent for fresh-cut flower arrangements and also dry well. Shasta daisies are a good addition to a butterfly garden and serve as a source of butterfly nectar. Shasta daisies are also deer-resistant.
Shasta daisies tolerate soil conditions ranging from dry to moist (not wet), and can grow in sandy, loamy, or clay soils as long as they are well-drained with an acid to neutral pH. They prefer full sun and good air circulation. Some types may require staking, due to their height. Shasta daisies are heavy feeders; it's recommended that they be given fertiliser in the spring at planting time and then additional fertiliser in the summer to provide optimal nutrition for blooming. Shastas also bloom most abundantly when dead blooms are regularly removed. Some nurseries encourage cutting the plant back to a few inches above the ground after the blooming season has finished to encourage earlier blooming the next spring.
Shasta daisies are most commonly propagated by division in the fall or spring. The University of Idaho Agricultural Extension recommends digging and dividing the plants every two years to encourage plant longevity. Propagation can also be done by taking cuttings in the summer. Because Shasta daisies are a hybrid plant, seed collection is not a recommended method of propagation and may result in plants that do not share the same traits as the original parent plant.
In 2003, the Shasta Daisy cultivar "Becky" was voted Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association. "Becky" has 3-inch-wide flowers, can grow up to 40 inches tall and also can have a 40-inch spread. They begin blooming in June and can bloom through September. Other popular cultivars include "Alaska" (known for its sturdy blooms and fall reblooming), "Switzerland" (known for having multiple blooms on each stem and one of the longest bloom seasons), and "Snowcap" (known for its low profile and minimal spread).
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