Plant of the week: English daisy - East Valley Tribune: At Home

Plant of the week: English daisy

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Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2007 4:01 pm | Updated: 6:35 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The use of the word “daisy” in the English language is as common as the flower itself. We’re either “driving Miss Daisy” or falling down to “oops a daisy.” And as long as we “don’t eat the daisies,” we’ll find out if he “loves us not” by plucking away its petals.

The plant: The use of the word “daisy” in the English language is as common as the flower itself. We’re either “driving Miss Daisy” or falling down to “oops a daisy.” And as long as we “don’t eat the daisies,” we’ll find out if he “loves us not” by plucking away its petals.

While most of us think of a flower with spokes of white petals whirled around a yellow center, the type of English daisy I’d like you to meet is colorful with compact flowers that look like pompoms. Commonly called Bellis (Latin for pretty), these cheery flowers are a delight in containers or in the ground. They are native to Europe and the Mediterranean and work well in our cool-season gardens. In the language of flowers, daisies symbolize innocence, simplicity, a newborn baby and cheerfulness. Just another reason to add this bright, fun flower in your garden.

Culture: Prepare your soil for flowering plant cultivation in a container or in the ground. In general, Bellis will grow just 5 to 6 inches tall with a spread of 1 to 3 feet. Plant in well-drained soil. Sow seeds in early fall or plant from transplant through spring. Place transplants 4 to 6 inches apart. Keep soil moist; they wilt in parched soil.

Growing guide: Morning sun to partial shade

Maintenance: Routinely pinch back growing stems to make way for new blooms. For those growing in containers, fertilize organically every two to four weeks with liquid fish emulsion or worm casting tea. In the ground, side dress with compost. As the heat rises, add nitrogen-rich bat guano.

Barn Goddess tips: Look for new varieties cultivated by Proven Winners at your nursery. Polar pink (bright pink), polar red (magenta), polar strawberries and cream (deep rose pink in the center fading to light creamy pink on the sides), and polar white (snow-white).

Leslie Honaker is a master gardener and co-owner of Garden Territory at the Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix.

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