Shasta Daisies from Seed to Spectacular Blooms
Shasta Daisies from Seed to Spectacular Blooms
In 1901, the great botanist Luther Burbank cultivated a new daisy. He named the daisies Shasta daisy after Mount Shasta in northern California.
The botanical name for the shasta daisy is Leucanthemum × superbum. This plant is the genus Chrysanthemum. But it is different from the Nippon daisy. It is a hybrid of the Portuguese daisy and the Max chrysanthemum native to Europe.
The Shasta daisy is a perennial flowering plant. It is famous for its iconic large white petals and bright yellow center. Its white flowers are like snowflakes.
This plant's blooming period is from June to September. There are many varieties of Shasta daisies, and they are of different sizes. Mature Shasta daisy can grow up to 4 feet high and 2 feet wide.
Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum) flowers John Rusk CC BY 2.0
Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum) flowers John Rusk CC BY 2.0

1. Growing Condition

  • Sunlight
Shasta daisies like full sun, meaning they need at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. Generally, I plant them in sunny places. Although they can tolerate light shade, full sun will promote their growth and flowering.
However, the summer in central Florida is so hot that I give them partial shade at noon. At the same time, I also use the water mist cooling method Dr. Michael A. Dirr suggested. This will help shasta daisies withstand the summer heat.
  • Soil
Shasta daisies like well-draining soil, and the soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Even though they can grow in different soil types, good soil drainage is essential for thrive. These plants are easily grown in average dry to medium well-drained soils in full sun. If you don't want your plants to get root rot, avoid waterlogging in the soil.
Whether your soil is clay or sandy, you can add some organic matter to improve it, such as compost or manure. Organic matter can enhance the drainage of clay and make sandy soil rich in fertility.
  • Watering
Although Shasta daisies are drought tolerant once established, I still water them regularly in dry or hot seasons.
However, unlike shallow-rooted plants, their roots cannot make the most of the water on the soil's surface. Therefore, I will deeply water these plants and let the water soak the soil thoroughly. I check the moisture of the soil before each watering. The best watering time is when the soil is slightly dry.
During winter, the slow water evaporation in the soil makes shasta daisies prone to root rot. As a result, wet soil in winter can be fatal for shasta daisy.
  • Temperature and Climate
The Shasta daisy is a hardy perennial which can withstand frost. Generally, they grow in the USDA 4-9 zone. However, too-hot summer climates may kill them. So, in central and southern Florida, we need to use shade fabric to help them withstand the stress of the hot sun and heat.
  • Spacing
When planting shasta daisies, I will make sure that there is proper spacing between plants. Keeping enough space between plants is vital for their health. Enough space helps plants to get enough air circulation, prevents them from getting too crowded, and encourages their roots to grow strong. Depending on the type and size of the plants, I plant them about a foot to three feet apart.
  • Mulching and Fertilizer
Covering the soil around plants with organic mulch can be super helpful for my plants and garden. It keeps the soil moist, regulates the temperature, and prevents those pesky weeds from growing. It's important to avoid piling mulch on the stems of plants to prevent stem rot and pests.
Shasta daisy does not require frequent fertilization. Generally, I use slow-release fertilizer once every six months.

2. Preparation

I nurtured shasta daisies from seed because it's a way to save money.
  • Seed selection:
Generally, I buy it online. When selecting suppliers, it's vital to consider the reputation of seed suppliers rather than just the price.
  • Timing:
You can start sowing indoors or outdoors, depending on what you like and the weather in your area.
If you plan on starting your seeds indoors, you should begin sowing six to eight weeks before the last frost in your region.
After the last frost in spring, you can start sowing outdoors.
  • Soil: 
I live in central Florida, where the climate differs from other areas. Here, I would like to share some of my experiences with sowing.
If I choose to sow seeds indoors, I will sow seeds in a 128-grid tray. Moreover, I will buy the Jiffy Seed starting soil mixture directly.
If I decide to sow seeds outdoors, I'll have to go through the cumbersome process of preparing the soil.
First, I will pick a suitable spot in my backyard to grow Shasta daisies. Second, I will remove this spot's weeds, stones, branches, and fallen leaves. Then, I need to break all the large chunks of soil and turn the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Finally, I use a rake to loosen the soil and keep the soil surface smooth instead of potholed.
I carried out soil tests before sowing outside. Only through the test report can I determine whether I need to improve the soil in this spot.
I would use organic matter, such as compost and manure, to improve the soil. However, I will control the amount of organic matter. Over-fertile soil will not allow seeds to germinate well.

3. Indoor Sowing

3.1 Sowing

  • The first step:
I filled seed trays with moisturizing and well-drained Jiffy seed starting soil mix and watered the soil—plant one seed in each grid. The advantage of seed trays is that they can ensure the distance between seeds.
  • Step two
I put the shasta daisy seeds on the soil surface and gently press them into the soil, but do not completely cover the seeds.
  • Step Three
I put a transparent plastic lid on each seed tray to create a mini greenhouse. Then, I put the seed trays in a sunny and warm place (65 °F-75 °F).
If the light is insufficient, I will supplement the light with plant growth lights. Enough light can speed up the germination of seeds. At the same time, enough lights can avoid the occurrence of leggy after seed germination.
  • Step Four
To prevent the lack of soil moisture, I will always ensure water is in the tray under the seed tray. This will neither interfere with the growth of the seeds nor cause waterlogged. I observe the development of the seeds every day and make records. Generally, seeds germinate within 10-21 days.

3.2 Transplanting Seedlings

Once the roots of the seedlings completely enclose the soil in the grid, I transplant them into the 1qt container. Then, put the container outdoors. Leave them outdoors for 1 hour on the first day and 2 hours on the second day until the placement time reaches 8 hours. The purpose of hardening off seedlings is to help them adjust quickly to outdoor conditions.
If the sun is intense at noon, I will shade them briefly; when it is not strong, I will let plants full sun. Seedlings' tolerant dry ability is weaker than mature plants. So, I check the soil's moisture every day. Once the soil lacks water, I will water it deeply.
If you think this process is troublesome, you can transplant these seedlings directly into the garden. But, the survival rate of the seedlings may be lower.

4. Outdoor sowing

When the soil temperature reaches 70 ℉, I sow shasta daisy seeds directly onto the soil's surface. Gently press the seeds into the soil (1/8") and sprinkle a thin layer of fine sand on top of the soil. Then, I sprayed the seeds with a water mist to sink them into the soil.

5. Varieties

  • 'Becky' (Leucanthemum x superbum 'Becky')
Becky is a robust and reliable variety. This shasta daisy is famous for its large flower head, all-white petals, and golden central disc. Shasta daisy becky plants are in full bloom from midsummer to early autumn and have strong disease resistance. Its leaves are 1 foot high and 2 feet wide, and flowers can reach 2 to 3 feet high.
'Becky' (Leucanthemum x superbum 'Becky'). The picture is from White Flower Farm.
'Becky' (Leucanthemum x superbum 'Becky'). The picture is from White Flower Farm.
  • 'Alaska' (Leucanthemum x superbum 'Alaska')
'Alaska' large flower head shows white petals and a bright yellow disk in the center for us. Shasta daisy Alaska is perfect for cut flowers. The height of the plant can reach 1.5-3 feet, and the blooming period is from August to September.
'Alaska' (Leucanthemum x superbum 'Alaska'). The picture is from Bluestone Perennials.
'Alaska' (Leucanthemum x superbum 'Alaska'). The picture is from Bluestone Perennials.
  • 'Crazy Daisy' (Leucanthemum x superbum 'Crazy Daisy')
'Crazy Shasta Daisy's unique wrinkled petals surround the bright yellow disc. The variety blooms from June to August, forming neat tufts with stout stems.
'Crazy Daisy' (Leucanthemum x superbum 'Crazy Daisy'). The picture is from Missouri Botanical Garden.
'Crazy Daisy' (Leucanthemum x superbum 'Crazy Daisy'). The picture is from Missouri Botanical Garden.
  • 'Macaroon' (Leucanthemum 'Macaroon')
The macaroon's unique feature is its semi-double flower head, with creamy white petals surrounding the yellow center disc. Compared with other shasta daisies, the petals of macaroon shasta daisies showed irregular outward curls. Its blooming period is from June to August.
'Macaroon' (Leucanthemum 'Macaroon'). The picture is from Missouri Botanical Garden.
'Macaroon' (Leucanthemum 'Macaroon'). The picture is from Missouri Botanical Garden.

6. FAQ

Q: When and how do I trim the Shasta daisies?
A: The time to prune the shasta daisy varies from region to region.
I live in central Florida (USDA 9 zone). Therefore, I will only cut off dead or unhealthy stems before the beginning of winter and keep healthy stems and leaves during winter.
If you grow shasta daisy in colder areas (4-7 zone), you should do hard pruning before entering winter. You can cut stems to 5 inches above the surface of the soil. At the same time, you also need to cover them to protect the roots of the plants.
The only pruning we need to do all summer is deadheading. We can remove spent flower heads to promote additional bloom and prolong the blooming period.

Q: Is the Shasta daisy susceptible to diseases and pests?
A: Shasta Daisy has no severe pest problem. This plant is resistant to most diseases and pests.
However, leucanthemums generally tolerate some susceptibility to verticillium wilt, leaf spots, and stem rots, no matter what variety. So, when the air is scorching and humid or very dry, I will pay special attention to the changes in leaves and stems. Once I find a diseased plant, I will carry out isolation treatment in time. If the condition is serious, I will burn infected plants.
Aphids, leaf miners, and mites are occasional visitors during shasta daisies growing season, especially in spring. Generally, Neem oil can control these pests, and 7-10 days is one cycle. If pests spread too fast, you can try to use insecticides, but this may cause harm to pollinators.

Q: How can I reproduce the shasta daisy besides using seed planting?
A: We choose cuttings or divide roots. For shasta daisy, a short-lived clumps plant, you can divide clumps as needed every 2-3 years to maintain vigor.

Q: Where is Shasta daisy suitable for planting in the garden?
A: Shasta daisies provide lasting summer flowering, so we can use them to create perennial borders and cottage gardens. When the Shasta daisy is in full bloom, it can give a harmonious color background for lilacs and forsythia.
Some compact varieties are suitable for flower beds and small gardens. The Shasta daisy and purple verbena collocation are my favorite collocations in the container.

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My name is Arthur Mo. I am a gardener who loves gardening so much. I graduated from Ocean University of China. After I returned to Japan, I began to learn how to cultivate hydrangeas and daisies. Mr. Mitsuhiro (my master) taught me to sow, cut, fertilize, and manage diseases and pests. For nine years, I have been sharpening my planting skills. In 2022, my family and I moved to Florida. The warm climate of Florida gives me the impulse to continue cultivating hydrangeas and daisies. I began my gardening trip in my backyard and unswervingly contributed my efforts to these plants. I love these plants deeply, and at the same time, I also thank my family, my master, and friends for their understanding and support.

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