Button-like flowers of red, pink and white make the English daisy (Bellis perennis) one of the quaintest of perennials for a cottage garden. Native to the cool-summer regions of Europe, English daisy is often grown as an annual in fall, winter and spring in areas that have summer temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Situate plants in full sun or light shade in a cool, moist, well-draining soil, planting them at the same depth as grown in their containers. Alternately, scatter seeds in soil in early spring to germinate.
Scratch the soil with a rake to a depth of 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Brush back any mulches to expose the soil to air and sunlight.
Scatter English daisy seeds across the soil surface, loosely trying to space seeds 4 to 6 inches apart. Sow seeds in autumn for germination in mild winter regions, or wait until spring when the soil is frost-free in regions with harsh winters.
Lightly brush over the soil surface with your hand, pushing about 1/8 inch of soil atop the seeds all across the planting area.
Sprinkle water over the planting area and monitor the site over the next 7 to 20 days for seed germination. Water the area again if natural rainfall is lacking and the soil begins to slightly dry. Do not over-water, causing the soil to become soggy.
Thin-out germinated seedlings, if desired, so that there is a spacing of 6 to 10 inches between prospering plants. Pulled seedlings can be transplanted to other parts of the garden.
Transplanting Robust Seedlings
Estimate the approximate size of the root balls of the English daisy seedling in the starter seed packets or small containers. Use the blade of your garden trowel or your fingers as a quick guide to measure and compare the depth of the root ball and needed hole.
Dig a hole with your garden trowel the same depth as the daisy's root ball. Make the planting hole about two- to three-times wider than the root ball to facilitate an easier planting task. Break up or crumble the soil from the hole with your hands so that no lumps of soil remain. Pulverize soil so that is consistently small grained and easy to work with.
Place the root ball of the starter seedling into the hole and check for appropriate planting depth. Add or remove more soil as needed so the root ball top with be even with the soil line. Pinch the root ball with your finger tips to break or tear the bottom of the root ball, jarring soil and roots loose.
Replace the crumbly soil around the root ball in the planting hole, filling the hole completely. When the hole is full, gently press your fingertips down around the root ball, compacting soil down around the root ball in the hole. Scratch the soil around the plant to ensure the soil line is even with the top of the daisy's root ball. Do not plant too deeply and do not pile excess soil atop the stems of foliage of the daisy.
Repeats steps 1 through 4 for the remainder of the seedlings to be planted. Space plants 6 to 10 inches apart.
Sprinkle water over the planting area, focusing water at the base of the newly planted daisies. As with the seeds, keep an eye on the site over the next one to three weeks so that the soil never dries out. Water the area again if it does not rain and the soil begins to slightly dry. Do not over-water.
About this Author
James Burghardt has written for The Public Garden, Docent Educator, numerous non-profit newsletters and for Learn2Grow.com's comprehensive plant database. He holds a Master's degree in Public Horticulture from the University of Delaware and studied horticulture and biology in Australia at Murdoch University and the University of Melbourne's Burnley College.