Leucanthemum x superbum

Leucanthemum x superbum

Shasta daisies seem one of the whitest flowers in the garden and were in fact named after the snow-capped Mount Shasta when introduced to horticulture in 1901 by Luther Burbank. They were possibly derived from complicated crosses of their cousin, the diminutive ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) with other daisy plants. They grow well in our Sydney climate. A robust herbaceous perennial, their stems rise up to around 80 cm or so in late spring, producing large blooms throughout summer and into early autumn: a time when there aren't many other daisy flowers. The yellow centre of the flower helps to break up the effect of the intensely white petals, and can be used to form colour echoes if the daisies are grown nearby yellow blooms or golden foliage. There are single, semi-double and double named forms. 'Becky' is a good single form and 'Highland White Dream' has lovely semi-double flowers.

Shasta daisies with the dark leaves of Alternanthera dentata in the background, Pymble garden

Shasta daisies benefit from reasonable soil in a well-drained, sunny position and will perform best if divided every few years in spring, amending the soil with compost and aged cow manure for best results. They like a small amount of lime in the soil and appreciate being fertilised. Frequent deadheading and removal of spent stems will prolong the flowering season. The tall varieties need staking, and cradle stakes are ideal. I enjoy growing them with the ornamental grass Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegata' to create a vaguely 'prairie' look; they also look good growing with some of the shrubby Salvia in bloom in summer, giving a crisp look nearby the brilliant blue Salvia guaranitica Large Form, for example. I also like to see bright white flowers contrasted against very dark foliage, as shown in the photo above. Shasta daisies make good cut flowers.

Flowers in January, February, March, December.

 Out now in my Sydney Garden.