October 2003

Texas Cooperative Extension, College Station, Texas



Oxeye Daisy, Chrysanthemum leucanthemum

By Dr. William C. Welch, Landscape Horticulturist
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

Oxeye daisy
Oxeye daisies bordering Martha Stewart's garden

Perennials are more popular than ever for growing in flower beds between roses or other flowering shrubs, or in drifts for providing color in the border.

One of the most effective perennials for Texas is the Oxeye Daisy, Chrysanthemum leucanthemum. It is a tough and resilient relative of the Shasta Daisy (C. maximum), bred by famed horticulturist Luther Burbank. Oxeyes were originally a European wildflower that has gradually naturalized throughout much of the United States, and is occasionally sold as an ingredient in wildflower seed mixes or as a garden perennial. Oxeyes are members of the sunflower family and look much like the Shasta daisy, but usually have longer, more slender stems with single blooms, or one or two additional buds, at the top. The flowerheads are one and a half to two inches across with yellow centers and 20 to 30 white petals. Lower leaves are lance-shaped with "toothed" edges.

This daisy reproduces from division, offshoots or from seeds that are capable of living for many years in the soil. An important cultural requirement of many perennials is periodic division. The general rule for spring flowering perennials such as these is that division should be done in the fall. Oxeyes are cold hardy and actually grow rapidly during the winter months. Single divisions made in the fall can become large plants by blooming time (April-June). At least half a day of direct sun and reasonably good garden soil are the basic requirements for success with daisies. Shasta daisies usually bloom later in the spring, and the double sorts are especially affected by hot weather.

Plants can be started from seed but seeds set out now may not provide good blooms next spring. Early to mid-summer is the best time to sow daisy seed. Insects and diseases are minimal. Aphids can be a nuisance but are easily controlled with insecticides. Daisies suffer during our long, hot summers and may need mulching and irrigation to survive July, August and September. As soon as the days begin to shorten and the night temperatures drop slightly, clumps should be divided and plants reset. Vigorous growth should begin immediately.

Oxeye daisies are vey easily grown and mix beautifully with other annuals and perennials in the landscape. They are also outstanding cutflowers and can provide several months of continuous display in the garden.

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