English Daisy

Several years ago, visiting a zoo, I saw an interesting red flower, and took a couple photos. I tend to take a lot of pictures of flowers, and rely too much on my memory, rather than writing down the names. As a result,  I have a file of pictures labeled “Unidentified” and that is where this particular flower ended up. Recently, I saw a similar flower in a catalog, pulled out my photo to compare and found they were the same. No longer Unidentified, I now know it is an English Daisy.

There are a large number of flowers that go by the name Daisy, but, the English Daisy, or Bellis Perennis, is the original Daisy. Native to Western, Central and Northern Europe, it is also known as Lawn Daisy, Double Daisy, Common Daisy and Day’s Eye. This last name comes from the fact that the flowers close at night, and in dreary weather. The petals close over the “eye”, the yellow center, and reopen anew in the morning. From this, we also get the saying “Fresh as a Daisy.” It is thought that the name Day’s Eye was also corrupted to become the origin of the name Daisy. On another note, I was surprised to find that Daisy is used as a nickname for my own name, Margaret. Apparently, in France, a certain type of Daisy is also called Marguerite, which led to the substitution of Daisy for Margaret.

A wide range of varieties are included in Bellis Perennis. The original Daisy, a single row of white petals around a yellow center, has been bred to create plants with larger, semi-double and double blooms. These are available in white, pinks, red and bi-color. Some of the doubles have so many tubular petals that the yellow center is hidden. The foliage is evergreen, and the spoon shaped leaves can be smooth or toothed.

Bellis Perennis means Pretty Perennial. In the case of the original Daisy, this is true. It is naturalized widely in the United States, and is considered a noxious weed in many areas. Growing less than a foot tall, with flowers about 1 inch wide, it can spread rapidly. It was once popular to plant these in your lawn, among the grass, but people soon found they are very difficult to remove. Mowing has no effect, the plants just grow back, and bloom again.

On the other hand, the newer varieties are not as tolerant of heat and cold. In the United States, the semi-double and double versions can be grown in zones 4-8. Here they are treated as an annual, or maybe a biennial. Blooms can be up to 4 inches across on these types. Each leafless stem carries a single flower. They make long lasting cut flowers.

English Daisies prefer full sun, or mostly sun, with well drained soil. Depending on the type, they may bloom in spring or early summer, and possibly again in the fall, or even all summer. They are a good ground cover, and fit well in small beds and containers. To prolong bloom time, English Daisies should be deadheaded as the flowers fade.  If growing conditions are just right, they may self seed, but the resulting plants may revert to single flowers.

Dave’s Garden has several wonderful photos of English Daisies. To visit his page, click here.

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One Response to “English Daisy”

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