Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shasta Daisies

I'm not a big fan of Shasta Daisies. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike them. They have their place in the perennial garden as long blooming bee and butterfly magnets that provide a bright and cheery spot of white and yellow in many sizes and shapes. There have been some interesting introductions in the last few years in the way of light yellow flowers, and wildly formed double flowers. But for the most part they're just common and unexciting old fashioned perennials you see everyday. Aren't They?

Maybe not, with the introduction of Leucanthemum 'Paladin' this year it was once again proven that even a perennial that's been around as long as the old fashioned Shasta Daisy, selective breeding can take the plant to the next level.



'Paladin' is a nice mid-height daisy to 20" tall with large double white flowers that cover the plant so completely you almost can't see the foliage. The stems are very sturdy, and shouldn't require any staking unless the plant is overfed. Shastas don't need much in the way of fertilizer, so lay off for most of the season. My plant has been blooming for about 2 weeks now, and is showing no sign of slowing down. I've been deadheading to promote more blooms, but you can just as easily wait until the first bloom cycle is done and shear it back to promote a second flush of blooms. Most varieties of Leucanthemum have an unpleasant (horrid is the word I prefer) fragrance but 'Paladin' has no scent at all, which is a big bonus to me.

'Victorian Secret' is a new variety for 2011 which I had the pleasure to view in Ohio recently. It is similar to 'Paladin' in all respects except it has a shorter 14" habit and a nice citrus scent. I'm told there are more varieties in the pipeline, including some nice yellow varieties. All with pleasant or no fragrance. I'm happy to see daisies getting a makeover, it's a plant that deserves some excitement.

2 comments:

  1. So are new varieties of Shastas any longer lived than the old ones? Seems to me like Shastas will come back for a few years and then peter out.

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  2. The big thing is they are fast growing, frequent division seems to help keep them going. 'Paladin' produces a tremendous number of crowns in one year, biennial division may be neccessary, or this may help it be more permanent. Only time will tell. The yellows I've grown so far ('Broadway Lights' and 'Sonnenschein') have been the most difficult to keep going. I hope 'Banana Cream' is different in that respect.

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