Shasta daisies are one of those flowers that just say, “Summer.” With their white and gold ray flowers, standing upright above green foliage, they are a plant many gardeners love. They are a heritage plant, too, having been introduced in 1901 by famed plant breeder Luther Burbank.
Burbank introduced more than 800 hybrid plants in his life as part of his mission to help feed more people. He’s most noted for his plums, the Burbank potato and the Shasta daisy. According to the Burbank Museum website, he wanted to create a daisy that was similar to the native oxeye daisy he grew up with in Massachusetts, but with bigger flowers, a longer bloom time and a more sturdy habit so it would perform well in the garden. It took him 17 years and he crossed the oxeye daisy with the English field daisy, the Portuguese field daisy and the Japanese field daisy to create the Shasta daisy. He named the plant for California’s Mt. Shasta.
For northern gardeners, hardy cultivars such as ‘Becky’ which is larger than most Shasta daisies, and ‘LaCrosse’ —a more compact variety—are the best options. Both of these are rated as hardy to USDA Zone 4.
Shasta daisies like a full sun location, 6 hours or more per day, and will become leggy in lower sun sites. They prefer well-drained soil and can tolerate somewhat dry conditions, making them a colorful option for rain gardens. If your location is wet, especially in winter, Shasta daisies will not last long. Rot and disease will do them in. Do not over-fertilize them. Too much nitrogen will lead to lots of foliage and few blooms. For a longer bloom season, plan to deadhead your Shasta daisies regularly.
Which flowers say “summer” to you?