The daisy is a paradox: it’s so common that you wonder why anybody would plant another one. And the daisy itself has the answer: its cheery butter-yellow face and snow white petals appeal to practically everybody. Its presence is informal—it brings a bit of the untidy meadow into household gardens—and at the same time it’s one of the most classic of garden flowers.
One of the best daisies available is the Becky Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’, formerly a member of the Chrysanthemum genus). This cultivar hails from Atlanta, where it was discovered in the 1960s by a woman named Ida Mae—she sold it as a cut flower and potted plant for two decades before it came on the national market. In 2003 the Perennial Plant Association named ‘Becky’ the Plant of the Year for its excellent color, sturdy growth habit, adaptability, and long bloom season. Bright white 3-inch flowers appear on 40-inch stems in late June or early July.
Common name: daisy, Shasta daisy
Botanical name: Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’
Plant type: Perennial
Zones: 4 to 9
Height: 3 to 4 feet
· Sun: Will bloom best in full sun; tolerates light shade
· Soil: Average, well-drained
· Moisture: Average
· Mulch: Mulch to preserve moisture in the soil.
· Pruning: Deadhead to encourage continued blooming.
· Fertilizer: None needed.
· By stem cuttings and division.
Pests and diseases
· Occasionally stem rots and leaf spots.
· ‘Becky’ does well in both humid southern heat and harsh northern cold.
· The flowers attract butterflies.
· Excellent as a cut flower.
· With regular deadheading, may bloom until September.
· Many other Shasta daisy cultivars are available, including ‘Alaska’, ‘Snow Lady’, and ‘Crazy Daisy’.
All in the family
· Other members of the Asteraceae family include asters, chrysanthemums, sunflowers (Helianthus spp.), and safflowers (Carthamus spp).
· Another common garden daisy is the Marguerite or ox-eye daisy (L. vulgare).
(Text by Elizabeth Noll, photo of ‘Becky’ courtesy of the Kemper Center for Home Gardening at the Missouri Botanical Garden.)