Punch up cool-season scenery with the cheery faces of English daisy. Also known as lawn daisy, this bright and perky plant used to decorate the lawns of Medieval castles and cottages in Northern, Central and Western Europe. No longer just an English daisy, this pretty flower traveled to America with colonists and has naturalized in much of the nation.
English daisy (Bellis perennis) carpets the ground with tufts of small spoon-shaped leaves, which can be evergreen in mild-winter regions. Flowers on this daisy feature a bright yellow button center surrounded with a fringe of narrow petals. The original English daisy of the Medieval Era had white or blush pink petals on flowers less than an inch across.
Modern breeders have updated this old-fashioned favorite, introducing bigger blooms up to 2 inches across on 3- to 5-inch stems. The color palette has expanded to embrace glowing shades in the red-white range, including pink, salmon, rose, ruby and nearly red. Some English daisy blossoms now have semi-double or double petals. A few varieties feature so many petals that the yellow center is nearly invisible.
English daisy is typically sold for fall and winter color in regions with mild winters. Where summers are cool, the plants can often survive into—and maybe through—summer. In warmer regions, plants languish and disappear from sight when summer heat arrives. Technically the USDA lists English daisy as perennial or biennial in Zones 4 to 7, but conditions must be just right for them to truly perennialize. In Zones 8 and higher, treat this little daisy as an annual.
Look for transplants of English daisy for sale in the fall. Give these bloomers a spot in full sun or part shade. Afternoon shade is ideal, especially in warmer regions, and it’s the secret to having plants last longer into spring, as temperatures start to creep higher. Tuck English daisy into moist, fertile, well-drained soil. Plants really benefit from organic matter, especially when native soil is clay or sand.
Keep English daisy transplants moist while they’re establishing. As plants mature, apply a 2-inch mulch layer. This helps maintain soil moisture and is your secret weapon against intense self-sowing. English daisy is a happy self-sower, spreading seed prolifically. In warmest regions, this really isn’t a problem, because hot summers keep plants in check. But in areas with cooler summers, self-sowing can create a carpet of English daisies. Remove spent blooms to prevent self-sowing, or count on mulch to keep seeds from contacting soil.
Use English daisies with winter pansies, violas, flowering stock, sweet alyssum or flowering kale. Plant them in pots or beds. They make a great partner for early tulips, helping to hide fading foliage. English daisies are short enough to naturalize in a lawn without interfering with grass growth.