Perennial Shasta daisies are known for their vibrant white flowers and make a lovely addition to any garden. I’ve grown Shasta daisies for years in my low desert Arizona garden, and the blooms come back each year. To learn how to grow Shasta daisies successfully, here are some helpful tips.
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How to Grow Shasta Daisies: Tips and Tricks for Year-Round Success
The name “Shasta Daisy” originated from the plant’s hybridizer, American horticulturist Luther Burbank. He developed this hybrid daisy in the early 20th century by crossing several species of wild daisies.
Burbank named his new creation “Shasta Daisy” after Mount Shasta, a prominent peak in northern California because the pure white petals of the flower reminded him of the snow-capped mountain. (Information from “The Well-Tempered Garden” by Christopher Lloyd)
Plant Characteristics and Ideal Growing Conditions for Shasta Daisies
Shasta daisies are characterized by their large, white petals surrounding a yellow center, growing on sturdy stems. They typically bloom from early summer to fall and can reach heights of 2-3 feet. These perennials thrive in USDA hardiness zones 4-9 and prefer full sun, well-draining soil, and consistent moisture.
Shasta Daisy Soil Preparation and Planting Time
In most climates, plant shasta daisies during the moderate temperatures of spring or fall. Starting Shasta daisies from transplants or divisions rather than seeds is generally preferable, as this method yields more reliable results. However, don’t be afraid to start from seeds. All the Shasta daisies in my garden began with me starting seeds indoors from some seeds I collected at a public garden.
Planting and seed starting dates for the low desert of Arizona:
Flowers to Plant Outside & Seeds to Start Indoors Each Month in the Low Desert of Arizona.
• PLANTING GUIDE: Each month lists annual flowers and bulbs to plant outside & seeds to start indoors.
• BLOOMING GUIDE: Photos show what may be in bloom that month.
If you choose to start from seeds, begin the process indoors about 6-8 weeks before your area’s last expected frost date or planting date.
To start shasta daisy seeds indoors:
- Fill seed trays or small pots with a well-draining seed-starting mix.
- Sow the seeds on the surface of the mix and lightly cover them with a thin layer of soil.
- Keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy, and maintain a temperature of around 65-70°F (18-21°C).
- Provide adequate light from supplemental grow lights. Once the seedlings have developed two sets of true leaves and the outdoor temperatures have warmed up, gradually acclimate them to outdoor conditions (harden off) before transplanting them into the garden.
Learn more about how to start seeds indoors in this blog post.
To prepare the soil for planting Shasta daisies, work in organic matter such as compost or aged manure to improve drainage and fertility. Space the plants 12-24 inches (30-60 cm) apart to provide ample room for growth and air circulation.
Watering, Sunlight, and Fertilizer Requirements
Shasta daisies require consistent moisture, so water them regularly, especially during dry spells. However, avoid over-watering as soggy soil can lead to root rot.
Plant in an area that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily to ensure healthy growth and abundant blooms. Apply an organic fertilizer meant for blooms in spring and again in mid-summer to support vigorous growth and flowering.
In the low desert of Arizona and other hot summer climates, provide afternoon shade for Shasta daisies. If plants receive too much sun during the hottest months of the year, they may die back and not return the following year. Do not fertilize Shasta daisies in the summer when growing in hot climates.
How to Grow Shasta Daisies and Care for Them Throughout the Growing Season
Keep Shasta daisies deadheaded throughout the season. This keeps your plants looking tidy, encourages the production of new flowers, and prevents the plant from setting seeds (which can exhaust its energy reserves).
To deadhead, use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to snip off the spent flower head just above the next leaf or branching point on the stem. In addition to deadheading, periodically trim any weak or leggy growth to maintain a compact, bushy appearance. If desired, you can pinch back young plants early in the season to promote branching and increase the number of blooms.
Shasta daisies may require support to stay upright throughout the growing season, especially in windy locations.
Tips for Using Shasta Daisies as a Cut Flower
The bright, cheerful blooms of Shasta daisies add a touch of classic charm to any bouquet or floral arrangement. Harvest your Shasta daisies in the early morning when temperatures are cooler and the flowers are well-hydrated to ensure the longest vase life.
Choose almost fully-open blooms with a firm (not floppy) stem. Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to cut the stems at an angle, facilitating better water uptake. Immediately place the cut stems into a clean bucket of water.
Remove any foliage submerged in water, as this can promote bacterial growth and reduce vase life. Use a floral preservative, change the water in the vase every couple of days, and trim the stem ends slightly each time for the longest vast life.
Troubleshooting Pests and Diseases
Monitor your Shasta daisies for signs of pests, such as aphids, slugs, or snails, which can damage the foliage and blooms. Usually, pest damage is minor and best left untreated. For pest control options, read this blog post.
To prevent fungal diseases like powdery mildew or leaf spot, ensure proper plant spacing and avoid overhead watering.
Overwintering Shasta Daisy and Preparing for Next Year’s Season
In colder climates, cut back the foliage of Shasta daisies to about 2 inches above the ground after the first hard frost. Next, apply a layer of mulch (such as straw or shredded leaves) around the base of the plants to insulate the roots during winter. In spring, remove the mulch and divide any crowded clumps to rejuvenate your Shasta daisy patch and encourage vigorous growth for the coming season.
In hot summer climates, the blooms will stop during the hottest months of the year. Once the flowers stop blooming, cut plants back, but leave 8-12 inches of growth to protect the plant. Once temperatures begin to cool down in the fall, prune back closer to the ground and divide plants.
How to Save Seeds from Shasta Daisies
- Allow a few of your healthiest and most desirable blooms to fully mature and dry out on the plant.
- Once the flower heads turn brown, dry, and brittle, carefully snip them off with clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears.
- Bring the flower heads indoors and place them in a well-ventilated area to continue drying for a week or two. (I put mine in a paper sack labeled with the name so I don’t forget which seeds they are.)
- When they are completely dry, gently break apart the flower head, exposing the seeds attached to the base of each petal. Separate the seeds from any debris and allow them to air-dry for another day or two to ensure all moisture is removed.
- Store the dry seeds in a labeled paper envelope or small glass jar, and keep the container in a cool, dark, and dry location until you’re ready to plant them in the next growing season.
With proper care and attention, Shasta daisies can be a delightful addition to your garden for years. By following these tips for soil preparation, planting, watering, sunlight, and fertilizing, you’ll be well on your way to cultivating and caring for a thriving Shasta daisy garden that comes back year after year.