Types of Daisies: A Comprehensive Guide

Daisies are wonderful plants which have a cemented popularity in gardens and as part of cut flower bouquets. They form a large part of the huge Asteraceae family of plants, also known as the sunflower or daisy family.

Daisies are native to many parts of Africa, North America, and Europe, and naturalize well in environments they aren’t native to. 

The name ‘daisy’ comes from the Old English dæġes ēaġe, which translates as ‘day’s eyes’. This refers to how all daisies open when the light touches their petals, and close when the sun goes behind a cloud, or sets. They also turn to face the sun.

Daisies carry a lot of symbolism, which you can discover here

When you mention the word daisy, most people picture the flower with white petals and a yellow central eye, but there are many types that range in appearance and color. 

To learn more about the types of daisies, and which varieties you can grow in your own green space, keep reading. 

Common Daisies

The most well-known type of daisy is the common daisy, or Bellis perennis. This type carries multiple names, including bairnwort, bruisewort, lawn daisy, and dog daisy, to name a few. 

You’ll often find them growing wild and prolifically through lawns and fields. Within the Bellis genus, there are roughly 15 species of daisy, naturally found throughout Europe and the Mediterranean.

How to Recognize a Common Daisy

You can instantly recognize a common daisy by the white and yellow flowers, which bloom year round. 

Common daisies will get to a maximum of 10cm tall, and form a single flower head per stem. 

The flower head itself is made up of tiny florets in the center, creating a yellow eye. The white petals form in a ray shape around the center, and won’t get bigger than 10mm. 

These flowers are produced in spring and summer, but you may get the odd straggler earlier or later in the season.

But what if the flowers aren’t out? The leaves are lance-shaped, but the widest point of the leaf is above the middle of the leaf blade. This is known as an oblanceolate leaf. The leaves also grow as a rosette along the base of the plant. 

While they are native to many parts of Europe, they’ve become naturalized in many parts of the world, and spread prolifically. 

Uses of Common Daisies

Although we often complain about the common daisy and how it may spoil the perfect lawn, (does it though? Is there such a thing as a perfect lawn?) common daisies have had their uses throughout history.

One of the common names will give you a clue as to its historical use, as common names often do. Bruisewort is another term for the common daisy, where it was used to treat swelling, bruises, prevent blood loss, and migraines. 

Varieties of Common Daisies to Grow Yourself

As with many new varieties, some of those listed below don’t look much like the ‘original’ common daisy, but they are still beautiful. Newer varieties of the common daisy feature bigger flowers, which can get as large as 2 inches in diameter.

The colors have also been expanded. You can find the common daisy in different shades of red and pink, and the flower itself can even come in semi-double or double petaled varieties. 

Here are just a few of the options you can try growing yourself:

  • Bellis perennis Pomponette Mix – for pompom or pincushion shaped flowers
  • Bellis perennis Bam Bam Red (Maxi)  – for bicolored petals that are white on the inside, but red on the outside. These petals curl into the central eye.
  • Bellis perennis Habanera Mix – for pincushion shaped flowers in a variety of colors.

Gerbera Daisies

Classed as the fifth most popular cut flower in the world, the Gerbera is a type of daisy that’s a favorite of florists everywhere, closely behind the roses and carnations. And it’s not a secret why – these plants can last nearly a month in a vase.

The name Gerbera is both the common and the genus name, and the genus itself has around 30 species. It was named after Traugott Gerber, who was a German doctor and botanist, a friend of Carl Linnaeus. 

Plants belonging to the Gerbera genus are also known as the African daisies, referring to those Gerberas found in South Africa, or Transvaal daisies. 

You’ll also find these beautiful blooms growing naturally in South America and Asia, though they are common throughout the world as ornamental plants.

How to Recognize a Gerbera Daisy

The flower head of a Gerbera is actually made of hundreds of tiny individual flowers. Depending on the species, a flower head can be as tiny as 7cm across, or up to 12cm across. 

Color and shape vary wildly in different varieties, but you can mostly get them in pink, white, orange, and red, or a combination. 

Gerbera flowers also have a central eye like most daisies, and usually have a smaller cluster of petals surrounding the center, followed by much larger petals.

In some climates they are perennials, but where it is too cold for them, they are grown as annuals and resown every year. They can grow up to 1 feet tall, and spread around the same size.

These gorgeous flowers do best in full sunlight, but they also tolerate partial shade if there’s no other option.

Uses of Gerbera Daisies

Gerberas are widely grown as ornamental plants, and usually form part of cut flower borders to be brought inside and used in arrangements. 

They grow well in pots, borders, and raised beds, instantly adding vivid color and interest into the garden. They also attract plenty of pollinators. 

While they’re mainly known as ornamental plants, they do also have some medicinal uses. Gerberas are used to treat colds, flu symptoms, headaches, and rheumatism.

Varieties of Gerbera Daisies to Grow Yourself

There are so many varieties of Gerberas to choose from! Most cultivars are the result of crossing Gerbera jamesonii and Gerbera viridifolia, and these are called Gerbera hybrida

There’s a type to suit every space, as they come in a range of color, petal forms, and sizes.

Just some of the varieties you can grow are:

  • Gerbera Sweet Fiesta – a hardy type of Gerbera which will survive all year round, which provides bright pink flowers tinged with white at the edges of the petals.
  • Gerbera jamesonii Glacier – for a free-flowering type of Gerbera, these beautiful flowers come in a brilliant white, contrasting with thick foliage.
  • Gerbera jamesonii Olympic – for crimson blooms that will last throughout summer.

Shasta Daisies

The Shasta daisy, or Leucanthemum x superbum was created in 1890 by Luther Burbank, an American horticulturist. 

The Shasta daisy was a result of crossing wild chrysanthemums for 17 years, and the name comes from Mount Shasta in Northern California, and the daisies get their name from the snow. 

Shasta daisies have the benefits of being hardy plants which are very easy to look after, and come from Europe. You’ll find them naturalized throughout the US, as they enjoy full sun and well-draining soil.

The flowers are produced from the middle of summer up until autumn. While they are hardy plants, they’re not resistant to pests or diseases, and the most likely to kill a Shasta daisy include nematodes, slugs, aphids, and earwigs.

How to Recognize a Shasta Daisy

Shasta daisies have more in common with the common daisy than they do with the Gerbera. Although Gerberas come in a whole rainbow of colors, the Shasta daisy bears the traditional white petals and yellow eyes. 

Depending on the conditions and the variety, a Shasta daisy will grow up to 4 feet tall, and will spread to about half that. 

The flowers themselves can reach up to 6 inches across, but a more typical size is around 3 inches. These gorgeous flowers will appear in early summer to autumn, or only in spring.

When it comes to the leaves, they are dark green and have a shine to them. Shasta daisies will need to be divided every 3 years or so, to prevent clumps from overgrowing. 

Uses of Shasta Daisies

In the garden, Shasta daisies are commonly used as carpeting plants, where they provide a lot of color and help fill in the gaps in a border. 

They also make great cut flowers in their own right, lasting around 10 days or so.

Varieties of Shasta Daisies to Grow Yourself

There are many varieties of Shasta daisies to choose from when it comes to growing your own. Here’s a snapshot of some of the most popular:

  • Shasta Daisy Madonna – a dwarf variety that produces a sea of daisies in a classic form.
  • Shasta Daisy Snowdrift – a hardy variety that has ruffled white flowers in a semi-double form.
  • Shasta Daisy Old Court – this variety will create an unusual display with its feathery white petals which have a wild appearance. These also attract a lot of pollinators.

Painted Daisies

Painted daisies are a gorgeous form of perennial plants which are native to southwestern Asia. 

They have been reclassified several times, and while they are known as Tanacetum coccineum, they were previously known as Chrysanthemum coccineum. 

These lovely plants do require at least 6 hours of direct sun in order to be at their very best. Though they can live in partial shade, they will produce fewer flowers, and the color of the blooms may be a little less vivid.

Tanacetum, the genus name, comes from the Greek word athanatos, which translates as ‘immortal’ or ‘long-lasting’, referring to the lifespan of the flowers. 

Coccineum comes from the Latin word coccineus, which is the word for red, a nod to just one of the colors this flower comes in. 

You’ll also hear the painted daisy called Pyrethrum, Persian pellitory, and Persian insect flower, as it attracts a lot of attention from pollinators. 

More often than not, painted daisies are grown from seed, though they can also be propagated by taking cuttings. Diseases and pests that affect the painted daisy include thrips, leafhoppers, powdery mildew, and aphids.

How to Recognize a Painted Daisy

Painted daisies grow in clumps in an upright habit, and can reach anywhere from 1 to 3 feet tall, and around 1.5 to 2 feet wide.

Painted daisies can come in both single and double petaled forms, and sport the classic yellow central eye, while the outer petals can come in yellow, red, purple, pink, and white. 

These gorgeous blooms appear from early summer into the height of summer. 

The foliage of a painted daisy is almost fern-like, and very fine. The upper leaves are much shorter than the lower, and hold a lovely scent which deters some insects.

Uses of Painted Daisies

Painted daisies – as their name might suggest – provide a plethora of color into any space, and are particularly suited for rock gardens and pots. 

Like most daisies, the painted daisy also makes the perfect cut flower, which is long-lived and provides striking color to any arrangement.

Painted daisy flowers are also grown on a commercial scale, to produce a more natural pesticide called pyrethrins.

Varieties of Painted Daisies to Grow Yourself

There are lots of different varieties to choose from when it comes to painted daisies. The best way to narrow down the options is to think about what color would go best with your planting scheme – or what color you’d like the most. 

Can’t decide? Seed packets of painted daisies often have a mixture of colors. 

  • Tanacetum coccineum James Kelway – for deep red flowers which contrast well with the yellow centers. This variety has also won an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS.
  • Tanacetum coccineum Super Duplex – for larger central eyes and wider petals.
  •  Tanacetum coccineum Robinson’s Giant-Flowered – for very large flowers.

Purple Coneflower

Purple coneflowers or Echinacea purpurea are fantastic ornamental plants which come from North America, but like many types of daisy, they are grown ornamentally all over the world.

Coneflowers are perennials which prefer full sun, but they’ll also grow in partial shade. 

They’ve enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity, as they are very drought and heat tolerant once the plants establish themselves. 

Echinacea is derived from the Greek word echinos, which translates loosely to ‘sea urchin’ or ‘hedgehog’, which describe the somewhat prickly florets that form in the center of each bloom. 

The genus itself has many different species, though Echinacea purpurea is the most popular, and therefore the one which is widely available.

You can propagate coneflowers by division or taking root cuttings, and you can of course grow them readily from seeds. 

If you’re growing a group of them – which you absolutely should – they’ll need dividing every 3 years or so to keep the growth vigorous and healthy. 

They also attract a lot of attention from bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. 

How to Recognize a Purple Coneflower

Purple coneflowers grow up to 4 feet tall, and face upright, unless the wind knocks them over. They can spread around 30 inches across, so they won’t take over your garden unless you give them some help!

Like most species in the genus, purple coneflowers feature lanceolate leaves, which can be anywhere from 4 to 8 inches long, depending on the variety. 

The further up the plant, the smaller and narrower the leaves get, in order to maximize the amount of sunlight the leaves can get. 

The color of both the central cone and the petals depend on the variety, but in the case of the purple coneflower, the center tends to be either a brownish color, or a darker version of the purple hue in the petals. 

The flowers appear in spring and summer, and one per stem. 

Uses of Purple Coneflowers

Many plants in the Echinacea genus have been included in herbal remedies for years, and this is also true of the purple coneflower. 

They are most often used to combat symptoms of the common cold, fever, burns, and wounds. The roots are used to treat rabies, skin complaints, and snakebites.

When it comes to their ornamental use, they are popular both in pots on their own, and as part of bigger border displays. 

Varieties of Purple Coneflowers to Grow Yourself

Some of the most interesting purple coneflower varieties that you should grow at least once include:

  • Echinacea purpurea Magnus – for deep pink to purple flowers and sunset-orange centers.
  • Echinacea purpurea Primadonna – featuring a deep rusty orange cone, which offsets nicely against the wild-looking petals, which come in bright red, orange, yellow, and pink.
  • Echinacea purpurea Rubinglow – for coneflowers which appear atop a much shorter stem, these lovely blooms feature lots of pink petals which circle a dark central cone.

Gloriosa Daisies

Also known as the Black-eyed Susan, or Rudbeckia hirta if you prefer going by the scientific name, these are lovely perennials or annuals which form large sprays of flowers. 

Black-eyed Susans are part of the Rudbeckia family, and while they’re not true daisies, they resemble them enough to bear the common name of the yellow daisy. 

They’re native to Eastern and Central North America, but like most of the plants on this list, they are grown all over the world for their ornamental value.

They’re most often grown from seed, and can be divided easily – and need to be divided, in order to retain their vigorous growing habit.

They do best in full sun, but they’re not fussy about how fertile the soil is. Mature black-eyed susans can also withstand some periods of drought in summer, though they will produce  fewer flowers in order to do so. 

Slugs and snails particularly like the Gloriosa daisies, so you may want to grow them alongside alliums to deter them. Rust, bacterial leaf spot, and powdery mildew can also prove problematic for these gorgeous plants.

How to Recognize a Gloriosa Daisy

Flowers are usually double or semi-double, and you’ll find them in bright shades of yellow, amber, or gold, with mahogany centers. 

The Gloriosa daisies can range in diameter from 5 to 9 inches, and appear throughout the summer months.

You can recognize the leaves of the Black-eyed Susan by the lance-shape, and stretch from 2 to 4 inches long. 

Uses of Gloriosa Daisies

As Rudbeckia hirta are extremely easy plants to grow, they are one of the most popular ornamental plants you can have in your garden. 

Plant them en masse in the middle of a border for a stunning display of color, while also serving the purpose of feeding pollinators. 

You can also grow them in pots, but they tend to do much better if they are planted in the ground.

These golden-hued flowers also make lovely cut flowers, adding a lot of joy to any display, where they’ll last anywhere from a week to two weeks.

Varieties of Gloriosa Daisies to Grow Yourself

Grown around the world for their stunning color and form, it’s not surprising that numerous varieties have received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. 

Some of the varieties you should try growing yourself include:

  • Rudbeckia hirta Prairie Glow – for bright orange flowers with golden tips.
  • Rudbeckia hirta Cherry Brandy – for deep crimson blooms.
  • Rudbeckia hirta Cherokee Sunset – for deep orange and red flowers.
  • Rudbeckia hirta Denver Daisy – for striking flowers with a dark center, the petals a deep mahogany, turning a bright yellow at the tips. 
  • Rudbeckia hirta Goldilocks – this variety features double petaled flowers in a lovely golden yellow. 

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