by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
A favorite flower of days gone by would have to be a daisy, Bellis perennis. This happy-face flower with radiating white petals around a yellow center is still identifiable to even non-gardeners. Daisies are so tough in the mountain garden, but too much white is boring and plain. We developed many daisies like bloomers that offer far more color, are brighter, and are even easier to grow than their daisy cousin.
Each of the following companion flowers thrives like a wild daisy. Each with a classic flower arranged in a radiating pattern shows a single bloom with an enormous range of colors and bloom shapes. These new species are known for their tolerance of dry conditions, making them a good choice for mountain locations challenging other flowers.
Here are our top choices for daisy-like flowers in your garden.
Asters contain 180 species, but the most popular variety is Aster ‘Celeste,’ which forms a clump covered with dense purple daisy-like flowers in late summer and early fall. This variety grows to knee height. All asters are late-bloomers, offering good color in late summer through autumn when most other perennials are past their prime. Asters prefer climates with cool, moist monsoon summers. Growing in the mountain wilds, this flower proves deer and javelina resistance.
Black-Eyed Susans, Rudbeckia, has yellow flowers around a mocha center disk, growing knee height and blooming in summer and early fall. Plant them in large groups for a showy mass of flowers that self-seeds freely in the garden and readily forms a colony that returns year after year. Little to no maintenance is required.
Blanket Flower, Gaillardia, is famous for its thick covering of blooms that blanket the garden in color. Gaillardia is a surprisingly easy-to-grow perennial that self-seeds easily while colonizing the wilder spaces in the landscape. Deer, javelina, and rabbit proof.
Coreopsis includes over 75 plants with daisy-like flowers. Also known as tickseed, all have daisy-like flowers, with foliage texture sporting elongated leaves, to lacy foliage. Plants are generally 1-2′ feet in height; they can be sheared back after blooming to stimulate a rebloom. These flowers attract lots of bees and butterflies every season. Deadheading encourages repeat blooms.
Ice Plant, Delosperma, has striking purple daisy flowers with yellow centers. The right combination of drainage and moisture yields breathtaking results. This is an ankle-high succulent perfect at blanketing the dry ground with daisy-like blooms all summer long—Javelina and deer resistant.
Mum, Chrysanthemum is a hardy garden mum blooming from September through frost. This clump-forming plant grows 2′ feet tall in a plenitude of colors. Mums bloom best with consistent moisture and lots of autumn sun.
Shasta Daisy, Leucanthemum, is the most similar to common daisies on this list. ‘Becky’ is a particularly popular variety that grows to 3′ feet tall with large, 4′ inch flowers that bloom from July through September. It makes an excellent cut flower.
Daisies never go out of style and with this list of 12 mountain bloomers that dress your gardens in a plethora of colors and fragrances.
Until the next issue, I’ll be helping local gardeners plant more daisies in their own yards.