Wild daisies, also called ox-eye daisies or Chrysanthemum lencanthemum, are perennial flowers that grow throughout North America, although they are less common in southern regions, according to Montana State University. While gardeners may see the ox-eye as a weedy pest in many parts of the country, these hearty flowers can make pretty garden additions. According to an article in "The Telegraph," wild daisies can be used in cuisine and herbal medicines as well.
If you're planting ox-eye daisies this spring, don't expect to see blooms during the first year. These plants use the first season to develop their roots and build strength for flowering the following year. Ox-eye daisies develop their first blooms early- to mid-season in their second year. According to the website Moxie Gardener, wild daises flower in late spring through early summer, but actual blooming time varies with climate. A document from Montana State University says that the flowers start appearing in June, but blooming can continue through August.
Wild daisies will thrive in anything from full sunlight to partial shade. Although they prefer pastures in meadows, they'll also take over abandoned croplands and roadsides. For best results, plant the daisies in full sun in well-drained soil. Water the plants regularly. Gardeners rarely have pest problems with ox-eyes. The plants flourish so well on their own that they're considered prohibited weeds in many areas, including Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Washington, West Virigina, Wyoming and Canada, says the website WildflowerInformation.org.
How to Plant
Start by enriching your soil with a 2-inch layer of peat moss. Use a spade to work the soil and distribute the moss, raking to smooth the surface when finished. Sprinkle daisy seeds liberally over the ground and finish with a 1/8-inch layer of vermiculite. Mist daily to keep the soil moist. The seeds should germinate in 14 to 28 days. Once the seedlings are 2 inches tall, pull up excess plants so your daisies are 8 to 12 inches apart. Water every few days until the plants are about 6 inches tall, then provide 1 inch of water per week. According to Moxie Gardener, 8 to 10 inches of mulch applied over the flowerbed will protect young daisies through a harsh winter.
Benefits and Uses
Besides looking beautiful on their own, daisies attract pollinating bees and butterflies that ensure the health of the rest of your garden. They make colorful centerpieces for the summer table and can also be part of dinner. Young leaves make tasty salad greens or cooked side vegetables, while flower buds can be consumed like capers. The flowers can be used to make herbal tea with soothing properties, similar to the effects of an old-fashioned cup of chamomile.
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