By Matt Gibson
With over 4000 existing species of daisies in the Asteraceae family, there is a daisy cultivar that is well suited to every gardener and flower lover in the world. Daisies come in many different shapes, colors, and sizes. The common daisy is a white flower with a yellow center, but daisies also come in red, orange, and pink with a yellow center, purple with a brownish center, yellow with a dark red center, and blue with a green center. The most popular cultivars of daisy are the African daisy, English daisy, Gerber daisy, Gloriosa daisy, Marguerite daisy, and Shasta daisies.
The daisy is not just a single flower, as it appears at first glance. It is actually a composite that is formed by tons of tiny, tubular-shaped flowers called disc florets that create the center of the daisy, or the stamen, which is bordered by petal-shaped flowers called ray florets. Each individual disc and ray floret within the daisy is a complete flower in its own right, with a stamen, carpel, and ovary. The group of tiny flowers are held together by a peduncle, which comes from the stem of the plant. Forming a rosette at the base of the plant, the foliage of the daisy can be either hairy or smooth.
Daisies close their petals up at night and open wide during the day beginning at dawn, which is how they got their name, from the Old English phrase meaning day’s eye (daes eage). Believed to be over 4,000 years old, daisies are even depicted on ceramic relics from ancient Egypt. Symbolically, the daisy represents new beginnings, purity, innocence, simplicity, patience, beauty, and loyalty in love. Daisy petals are plucked in the children’s game “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not” to indicate whether or not a person’s secret crush has similar feelings for their admirer.
Cultivated throughout history for both ornamental and medicinal uses, daisies are believed to ease cough and chest congestion, slow bleeding, dull muscle aches, and soothe indigestion. Though the common daisy is often cultivated in flower gardens around the world, it is considered a weed in North America. Today, daisies are usually grown solely for ornamental purposes, but they are actually edible and very nutritious. Closely related to the artichoke, daisies are high in antioxidants and Vitamin C, and they can be added raw to fresh salads.
Popular Daisy Varieties
With over 4000 known cultivars, it would be a tall task to make a list of every daisy variety. Instead, we put together a list of the most popular and well-loved species of daisy plants to help you narrow your options down when deciding which daisies to plant in your garden.
Common Daisy: Available in white, pink, red, and blue, all with a yellow center, the common daisy, or lawn daisy, is the flower that most people picture when the daisy is mentioned.
African Daisy: A drought-tolerant perennial ground cover that thrives in full sunlight, the African daisy comes in shades of pink, yellow, orange, and red, with brownish yellow centers. Learn how to grow African Daisies here.
Annual Daisy – Sharing the Bellis genus, as well as the appearance and medicinal value with the common daisy, the annual daisy is the only annual in the genus. The main difference, other than the lifespan of the two flowers, is the size, as annual daisy flowerheads are significantly smaller than the blooms of the common daisy.
Aster Daisy – Growing best in cool, moist climate areas, the aster daisy cultivar is a summer flower that brings in the pollinators. Lavender petals with yellow centers.
Blue-Eyed Daisy – The blue-eyed daisy gets its name from its dark blue to purplish center. The center is outlined with a yellow ring and adorned with white petals.
Blue Marguerite Daisy – The Blue Marguerite has a bright yellow center, surrounded by sky blue to lavender petals. A South African species, the Blue Marguerite thrives in mild summer climates.
Blushing Barberton Daisy – Though the Blushing Barberton daisy is known to bloom randomly all season long, its most prolific period is during the spring. A popular plant among florists and gardeners alike due to its ease of growth via seed sowing, this daisy comes in various shades of white as well as both light and dark purple.
Butter Daisy – The butter daisy is an easy-to-grow annual that sports all-yellow flowerheads on bright green foliage. Learn how to grow butter daisies here.
Cape Daisy – Cape daisies bloom in white, yellow and purple with dark brown centers atop large bushes that can grow up to four feet tall. These daisies produce a lot of pollen and are a favorite of bees.
Chocolate Daisy – The blooms of the chocolate daisy look like sunbursts. The dark brown centers have a bright yellow speckled outline. The dark brown color extends from the centers into the inner petals, which turn bright yellow on their outermost edges. Easy to grow from seed, this drought-resistant cultivar grows naturally in Colorado, Texas, and Mexico.
Coneflower Daisy – The spiky, reddish orange centers, surrounded by drooping pale purple petals, attract an array of wild butterflies and bees. Sensitive to overwatering.
Crown Daisy – The crown daisy gets its name from its unique coloration. Its yellow centers are surrounded by two-toned petals that are yellow on the inside with white ends. Often used in Asian dishes, the crown daisy plant is commonly cultivated for culinary use as a leafy green vegetable.
Curly Leaf Daisy – This daisy variety is known for its bright yellow flowerheads with bright yellow centers. Both its flower petals and foliage fold underneath itself for an interesting look. Well suited to both sandy and rocky growing conditions.
Dahlberg Daisy – Commonly used as a groundcover, the Dahlberg daisy blooms in late spring, producing all-yellow flowers with strong, sweet aromatics. Each plant grows to 12 inches high and wide.
Easter Daisy – The stem and foliage of the Townsendia incana, also known as Easter daisy or Silvery Townsendia, is covered in fine hairs that make it appear silver. While most daisies rise above their foliage on elongated stems, the Easter daisy’s flowerheads rest on the same level as the foliage, giving it a balanced, bouquet-like appearance.
Florist’s Daisy – Its namesake is an obvious nod to its durability in bouquet arrangements. The florist’s daisy is composed of layers of petals that make the flowerhead look like a cheerleader’s pom pom.
Gaillardia Daisy – The bright and vibrant flowerheads of the Gaillardia daisy are highly recognizable: with red centers that have bright yellow flecks and reddish pink petals with yellow tips, the blossoms look like a sunburst. Also known as blanket flowers due to their tendency to spread out in adequate growing environments.
Gerbera Daisy – The easy-to-grow seeds of the Gerbera daisy come in over 40 different varieties. Gerbera daisies are available in various shades of red, pink, orange, and yellow.
Gloriosa Daisy – A magnet for pollinators, namely bees and butterflies, the Gloriosa daisy, commonly called Black-Eyed Susan, is easy to grow from seed. Bright yellow with dark brown to black centers.
Indian Chrysanthemum Daisy – The leaves of the Indian chrysanthemum daisy are used to brew teas with medicinal properties. The flowers sit atop stems that rise up two feet tall and bloom throughout the summer and into the early weeks of autumn.
Livingstone Daisy – A perfect choice for gardeners near the coast, this sun-loving, sea-salt tolerant daisy has a lot of flair. Its dark red centers are highlighted by pink, yellow, orange, and white petals with white or yellow bands that outline their cores.
Marguerite Daisy – Native to the Spanish Canary islands and naturalized in the USA and Italy, the Marguerite daisy is a picky perennial shrub. It requires lots of sun, as well as warm, well-draining soil that is high in organic matter. It also needs protection from rough winds and freezes. Available with white, yellow and pink petals and yellow centers.
Oxeye Daisy – Oxeyes thrive in the well-draining soil of grasslands and meadows. Its white, pink, and purple tinged flowers have yellow centers and sit atop 20-inch-tall stems.
Painted Daisy – Painted daisies get their name for their eye-catchingly bright colored flowerheads, which come in a variety of colors. They have the ability to repel pesky insects, yet attract butterflies and other pollinators.
Rough Daisy – An African daisy that is very drought resistant, the rough daisy is a spreading woodland perennial that can grow up to eight feet tall. The flowerheads look similar to the typical daisy flower, sporting white or purple petals with dark undersides.
Royal Haze Daisy – Also a native to the Spanish Canary islands, the Royal Haze daisy has been naturalized in the USA and Australia. Its one-inch-diameter flowerheads look similar to those of the common daisy on compact blue-green shrubs.
Small Desert Star – Thriving in dry, desert climates, the Small Desert Star’s white flowers with yellow centers sit atop very short stems, which make them look as if they are growing right out of the ground. The adorably small white and yellow flowers and hairy, dark green foliage make for a perfect pairing.
Swan River Daisy – Hailing from Australia, this cultivar is available in a wide variety of different shades of blue and purple flowers with yellow centers. The Swan River daisy blooms atop three-foot-tall bushes.
Transvaal Daisy – Transvaal, or Barberton, daisies are available in yellow, orange, pink, and red. The species was created by crossing two different kinds of Gerbera daisies, and it has become one of world’s most beloved ornamental flowers.
Growing Conditions for Common Daisy
Hardy to USDA zones four through 10, the common daisy likes full sunlight, and a bit of partial afternoon shade will encourage extended blooming in the spring. Keep the soil around your English daisies moist at all times, and provide a fertile, well-draining soil. Work a two-inch layer of well-rotted manure or compost into the soil prior to planting, digging the amendment in six inches below the surface to improve moisture retention and fertility. Amending the soil with organic material is especially important if you have sand- or clay-based soils.
How to Plant Common Daisy
Common daisies are typically planted in late winter or early spring for spring blooms and in late summer or early fall for fall blooms. As the seeds need direct exposure to sunlight in order to germinate, don’t bury them under the soil. Instead, just sprinkle the seeds across the surface of lightly moistened soil, and allow 10 to 25 days for germination. When the seedlings reach 2 to 3 inches apart, cut down unwanted seedlings with scissors to thin them down to 6 inches apart.
The best time to move young transplants into the garden is during autumn. Just dig ample holes that are as deep as the root mass of the young plants. Gently remove the transplants from their pots, and place them into the holes. Remove air pockets by moving the displaced soil back in around the roots and using your hands to push the soil into place. Watering may also help to settle the disrupted soil around the transplants.
Care for Common Daisy
A drawback of growing English daisies is their vigorous self-seeding habits. Not only do they self-seed, but the plants are nearly impossible to remove without leaving parts of the taproot in the ground, which allows it to regrow time and time again. Unless the entire root is removed, the flowers will reappear again in time.
One method for keeping common daisies from self seeding is to lay out a 2-inch layer of organic mulch around your daisies. The mulch layer, aside from helping to deter weeds and improve moisture retention, will keep the seeds that drop from touching the moist soil, which will keep them from germinating. Another way to combat unwanted daisies is to fertilize them, as the flowers don’t respond well to added nutrients.
Aside from fighting off any unwanted common daisies, the only care your flowers will need is plenty of water and the occasional deadheading of spent flowers to encourage new blooms. Common daisies need lots of water to develop and thrive, especially when establishing themselves in a new growing environment. Provide water when the soil dries out to a depth of two inches, keeping the soil moist but never soggy.
How to Propagate Common Daisy
Common daisies can only be propagated by seed.
Garden Pests and Diseases of Common Daisy
Common daisies are pest and disease free.
If you don’t mind a little bit of self seeding, the common daisy can be a wonderful ornamental plant for flower gardens. If self seeding is an issue in your flower beds, try out some of the cultivated semi-double or button cultivars. One of the prettier, as well as less invasive, common daisy cultivars is the Galaxy species of the English daisy. If the invasive nature of the common daisy scares you off, there is a long list of daisy varieties to choose from above in the Popular Daisy Varieties section above.