These Lawn Weeds Have Grown Up
Common Name: English daisy, lawn daisy
Botanical Name: Bellis perennis
Form: low growing, flattened rosette
Plant Type: herbaceous perennial
Mature Size: 8 inches by 10 inches
Origin: Europe, Great Britain, North Africa
Hardiness Zone: 4 to 8
Foliage: small spoon shaped leaves, up to 2” long,
Flowers: March to July, composite, ¾ - 11/4”in diameter, daisy-like, yellow central disk floret surrounded by white ray petals,
Fruit: one seed, dry, indehiscent fruit, achene
Exposure: sun to partial shade
Soil: prefers rich, moist, well-drained soils
Uses: ground cover, wildflower gardens, containers, window boxes, also used as an annual
Propagation: seeds, basal cuttings, rhizomes
Pruning: deadhead to reduce self-sowing
Problems: does not tolerant dry soils, plants tend to die out in the south due to the heat and drought, in the north, plants spread by seeds, spreading crowns and rhizomes, common lawn weed in cool climates, no serious insects or diseases
English daisies often pop up in lawns in spring, hence their common name ‘lawn daisy’. They are considered weeds wherever summers aren’t too hot nor too dry. These temperate little perennials like it cool and wet and fade away when it isn’t. That’s why, in southern gardens, they are considered annuals as they don’t reappear the following year.
The flowers of English daises are heliotropic, which means their little faces follow the sun throughout the day. Blossoms sit singly atop leafless stems and emerge from a rosette of leaves. Their crown consists of short rhizomatous roots that multiply and form deep green mats, which are dotted above the ground with little daisies. Since they also self-sow, they can become a tad invasive, so dead head flowers before they set seed if you want to keep them in check.
The small daisy-like flowers of the common English daisy have come a long way, thanks to the work of plant breeders. Bigger flowers sit atop longer stems. Longer petals are in shades of pinks and reds, with brighter whites. There are now many varieties that don’t resemble the original daisy-type flower. Instead, they resemble pompons with so many petals that the central disk is hidden.
English daisies are perfect companions to spring flowering bulbs. They happily grow at their feet adding another layer of colour and interest. They are perfect for adding early and continuous interest to planters and window boxes. These neat and well-behaved little guys pop out flowers willy nilly, if they don’t dry out or fry in the sun. As the spring progresses into summer, position them so they don’t receive hot afternoon sun. This will increase their longevity and flowering period.