Leucanthemum are a delightful sight in fields and meadows throughout the summer. Here’s how to plant and care for these pretty bloomers in your garden.
Leucanthemum are an integral part of a lush, blossoming summer meadow. Their large, white heads on long stems turn gracefully towards the sun, bend elegantly in the wind and can often be found accompanied by other beauties, such as Poppies, Clover and Cornflowers. It’s just as well known among native European wild flowers as its little sister, the Lawn Daisy, and adorns gardens and terraces as readily as fields and meadows.
The Leucanthemum genus includes 42 different species. It belongs to the Asteraceae family, from which lots of healing plants originate, such as Chamomile and Marigold. Allergy sufferers may therefore experience a reaction to the pollen and touching the flowers. The genus Leucanthemum is derived from Greek words and means ‘white flower’. All Leucanthemum species are native to Europe, however, individual species are restricted to certain regions. So, for example, the Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum atratum) only grows in the wild in Austria, and the Portuguese Daisy (Leucanthemum lacustre) is only found Portugal.
The Leucanthemum is well known as a native European garden and meadow flower. Most Leucanthemum species have a similar appearance, although some are short-living and some long-living. Leucanthemum grow from a basal flower rosette and reach 20 to 40 inches tall, making them some of the larger wild flowers. Its undivided leaves are characteristically pinnately cut at the edges. The lower foliage leaves grow on petioles while the upper ones are sessile. Their large, white individual flowers with yellow centers appear between May and August, depending on the species, and characterize the genus. Here, the white, or sometimes, depending on the species, also pink, red or yellow colored ray florets just for show - the actual flowers are over 200 small, yellow disc florets at the center. More recent breeds are also double-flowered. Leucanthemum grow in clumps and therefore often form small groups.
Location and Soil
Leucanthemum can be found in the widest variety of areas as wild and meadow flowers. It is a robust and very easy-care plant genus which does well in almost any kind of soil. Of course, there are also those which prefer more specific conditions among the 42 species, such as the Autumn Ox-Eye Daisy (Leucanthemella serotina), which prefers a slightly acidic and moist soil. One thing they all have in common is a preference for a sheltered, sunny location. However, most varieties also thrive in semi-shade.
Leucanthemum look most effective in the garden when they are planted in larger tuffs. Taller varieties look good in combination with shrubs such as, Lupin and Yarrow. Dwarf varieties are perfect as lush blooming groundcover or for flower bed borders. If you want to jazz up your with Leucanthemum, the best choice is the Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare). It is self-sowing and it appears each year in a different place among the greenery. Leucanthemum are a bee and butterfly magnet. Their long stalks and large flowers also make them very popular as cut flowers. In plant pots, the various daisy colors decorate terraces and balconies.
One special variety, Marguerite Daisy (Argyranthemum frutescens) can often be grown as a standard plant. It is related to the Leucanthemum species but forms its own plant genus. The Marguerite Daisy is native to the Canary Islands and Madeira and not winter-hardy in more northern latitudes. The young leaves and flower buds of the daisy are edible and can be eaten with bread or in a salad, for example. Its medicinal effect is diuretic and wound-healing.
Planting and Care
It’s best to plant Leucanthemum at the start of May, when the nighttime frosts are no longer a threat. As the plants like to spread both above and below ground, you should plan plenty of space for Leucanthemum in a flower bed (approx. 15.75 inches). Plant the flowers around 7.87 inches deep. Leucanthemum are relatively thirsty in the summer and need watering up to twice a day. If they are too dry, they quickly hang their heads. However, waterlogging should be avoided. A standard potting soil is a suitable substrate. Moderate fertilizing every two to three weeks and regular pruning encourages flowering. Timely deadheading also prevents self-sowing in the garden. Tall varieties should preferably be sheltered or have a support.
Some Daisy hybrids are winter-hardy, for example the Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum), also commonly sold under the commercial name Max Chrysanthemum (Leucanthemum maximum), and can grow perennially in the flower bed. However, they should be divided every three years and moved to a new location. This promotes vitality and growth. The various meadow Leucanthemum also overwinter without problem in their location. Perennial plant pot Leucanthemum and tall stems, however, must be overwintered indoors. For this, cut the plant back by two thirds before the first frost and place in a cool but light location at around 41 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Gradually move plants somewhere warmer in the spring and increase watering once again. Annual plants are bought new or sown each year.
The garden plants can be propagated via cuttings, seeds or division. Take approx. 5.9 inch long cuttings in late summer and let them grow over the winter in propagators filled with an evenly moist substrate. Cover the pots with a film. The even air humidity helps the young Leucanthemum to take root. In May, the pots can then be placed outside or the young plants can be planted into a flower bed. If you want to sow Leucanthemum, you can collect the seeds from the seed capsules in the fall. Keep the seeds in a dark, dry place over the winter. From May you can then bring the daisy seeds straight outside.
It is easier if you leave the seeds to simply sow themselves, for example in a or wild shrub bed. If you are planning to grow in pots, the seeds can be grown indoors as early as January, if you have a large stock of Leucanthemum in your flower bed, you can dig these up in spring or fall and divide them with a sharp spade.
Diseases and Pests
Sticky honey dew on the leaves is an indication of aphids. They usually like to infest the petiole and leaf undersides in particular. Ladybugs and green lacewing larvae or treating with a soapy water solution can help. During extended dry periods, spider mites can appear on Leucanthemum. When budding in the flower bed, it is essential that plants are regularly checked for snail attacks, as the young Leucanthemum roots are a delicacy for these hungry beasties. Waterlogging can lead to a threat of root rot and mold.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do Leucanthemum look like?
Leucanthemum grow straight up and have green, pinnatisect leaves. The large, white, individual flowers are particularly characteristic. Leucanthemum also grow in clumps and can often be found in small groups in meadows.
How long do Leucanthemum bloom for?
Depending on the variety, Leucanthemum flower from May to August. Marguerite Leucanthemum even flower into October.
Do Leucanthemum need a lot of sunlight?
Although Leucanthemum do prefer a sunny location, they also cope well in semi-shade.
How often do Leucanthemum need watering?
Leucanthemum prefer moist soil and should therefore be watered regularly.
Can I prune Leucanthemum after they have flowered?
After flowers have finished blooming they should be regularly removed to stimulate the formation of new flower buds. The crown can be cut back about a third in the fall.
When can Leucanthemum be put outside?
After overwintering, Leucanthemum first need to get used to the outdoor temperatures again. In the spring - from around March onwards - they can be placed in a light, warm place on the balcony or .
How should Leucanthemum be cared for?
In addition to regular watering, Leucanthemum benefit from fertilizing every two to three weeks. And regular pruning encourages flowering, ideally at the end of July/start of August or in the fall. The clump should be divided and planted somewhere else roughly every three years.
Which Leucanthemum are winter-hardy?
Only Leucanthemum hybrids such as garden Leucanthemum or various meadow Leucanthemum are winter-hardy. Leucanthemum kept in a tub should be overwintered.