These are annual or perennial herbaceous plants. Their leaves are arranged in rosettes. The flower heads of species daisies are 1-2 cm in diameter, while those of the cultivars are 3-8 cm wide. They flower in April and May, but if lawn is regularly mown (which prevents plants from blooming in due time) the flowering can extend throughout the summer. Lawn daisies usually set seeds, and they often self-sow. Seeds remain viable for 3-4 years.
Many garden forms of perennial daisies (Bellis perennis L.) are widely cultivated, which are most often grown as biennials. The plants are 10-30 cm tall, with small ovoid or spoon-shaped evergreen leaves. In the first year daisies grow the leaf rosette, producing flowers in the second year. They send up 15-30 cm tall flower stalks with numerous yellow-eyed flower heads in white, pink or red, and sometimes in other colours. Leaves and buds, which have been set late in the season, overwinter well and start flowering in April, weather permitting, or in May. They flower most profusely in spring or early summer, however, if summer is cool and rainy, they will keep sending up flower stalks until the autumn frosts. During a very hot spring flowers will usually be smaller, and the flowering will be over soon.
Fully double daisies sometimes mutate and self-sown plants come back as single daisies.
[banner] Garden forms of daisies are numerous, and they are classified into groups by anatomy of the flower, and by fullness of their blooms – fully double, semi-double or single. According to the size of the flower, daisies can be small-flowered (2-4 cm wide), medium-flowered (4-6 cm) or large-flowered (6 cm and more).
Lawn daisies grow quite well in open sunny locations, but feel more comfortable and flower for longer in semi-shade, especially if the weather is hot. They are not particular about the soil, but they produce larger flowers when grown in fertile free-draining soil. Daisies can be transplanted even when in flower.
In dry weather daisies require additional watering, otherwise their flowers become smaller, and fully double forms start to mutate. If you want to prevent daisies from producing seeds and to extend their flowering, remove spent flowers. If daisies are grown in the lawn, feel free to mow them. Daisies grown in the lawn do not need additional watering or feeding, since they receive sufficient moisture and fertlisers along with the grass. These flowers dislike soggy soil in late autumn. If daisies are grown in flowerbeds, and the winter is snowless, or if the snow cover has been blown away, protect plants with dry leaves and conifer branches.
Daisies are propagated from seed, by cuttings and clump division. Seeds are sown in late June or early July directly into the flowerbed, and germinate in 7-10 days. Seedlings are thinned to every 10 cm, and are usually transplanted into the flowering position in August at 20 cm intervals.
Daisies suit large and small gardens alike. They are easy to cultivate as pot plants. Containers planted with daisies can be placed near a water feature, on lawn edge, next to hedges, or they can adorn a garden bench, a table or a patio. They can be used as an early accent to decorate balconies in May. In moist and fertile places daisies can be grown as lawn replacement, eventually spreading into a flowering carpet. They associate well with hyacinths, tulips, forget-me-nots and pansies.
© Giedra Bartas, 2010