surinenglish

Luminous Shasta daisies

L. x. superbum and a 'frilly' cultivar (inset).
L. x. superbum and a 'frilly' cultivar (inset). / Wikimedia
  • Daisies are always popular and the Shasta daisy is probably the best of them all, with sturdy stems and large flowers

Commonly called the Shasta daisy, Leucanthemum x superbum was hybridised by Californian Luther Burbank in his quest to find the whitest flower possible - one that would reflect the moon's glow in the evening and look luminous. He crossed a Japanese daisy with an American one and the result was named after the snow-capped Shasta Mountain.

L. x superbum Becky is one of the best cultivars; it flowers a little later than others and has the largest flowers. However there are many others: some are doubles such as the German Christine Hagemnann, others have twisted and frilly petals such as Belgian Lace and there are even yellow forms such as L. x superbum Gold Finch.

A closer look at the daisy.

A closer look at the daisy. / Wikimedia

Shasta daisies need moist, rich soil but are drought resistant for short periods once fully established. Situations with partial shade or one that receives some shade during the afternoon are preferable to ones in full sun.

The daisies will form a clump about 60cm high and although the flower stems are sturdy, they may need staking in exposed areas. The clump can be divided in alternate years to produce more plants or the seeds can be collected and sown in early spring.

Reader's photo: Viticella

Reader's photo: Viticella / Rozz Caplan

Dead-heading before seed is produced will prolong the flowering period which starts in late spring and continues through until autumn. As the flower forms on a single stem, the stem should be cut off at the base once the bloom goes over.

In cold inland areas, frost may kill the top growth which can then be cut back. Mulching will help to protect the root ball but Shasta daisies are very hardy and should survive a hard frost.

Shasta daisies have a pungent smell that some people find off- putting but they are ideal for borders and bedding or in containers, attracting lots of pollinating insects to the garden.