Shasta daisies are one of the all-time favourite garden perennials, and rightly so.
This plant is easy enough to grow for a beginner yet important enough in garden design that experts include them in many perennial borders. Interestingly enough, the shasta daisy ‘Becky’ has been named Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association so we will all be seeing a lot of ‘Becky’.
Growing Shasta Daisies
To begin with, ‘Becky’ and her cousins are reliably hardy from zone 4 through 9. We can grow shasta daisies almost anywhere and as long as we give them full sunshine or very light morning shade, they will thrive.
The plant will strut its stuff best in a good garden soil; this means a well-drained soil but one where moisture is present and organic matter is excellent. Mind you, it will survive in your basic garden soil too (who has that perfect garden soil the books all ask us to have?) but it doesn’t like clay soils
Shasta daisies will live for the summer in clay soils but will tend to die over the winter in heavier, wetter soils
‘Becky’ blooms for an extended time and if you deadhead the blossoms, it will produce new ones that further extend the blooming time. Deadheading means to cut off the flower and stem as it starts to fade and die but before it has a chance to set seed.
Deadheading is a basic gardening skill and most annuals and daisy family plants will bloom heavier and for longer periods if they are regularly deadheaded.
Becky is a plant with a bit of a history because we know that Jim and Becky Stewart of Atlanta, Georgia got a plant from their neighbour Mary Ann Gatlin who in turn received it from Mary Ann’s mother, Ida Mae. Now Ida Mae had a florist business and sold ‘Becky’ as a florist cut flower (hint: Becky makes a great summer bouquet) and as a garden plant. Several other nurseries picked up the plant and it was also grown as ‘Ida Mae’ and ‘Ryan’s Daisy’ (named after nurseryman Ryan Gainey who also got it from Ida Mae) but it became ‘Becky’ to the plant world when Wayside Gardens adopted the name in their catalog and started making the plant available across North America
While you may be confused about the name of this shasta daisy, ‘Becky’ makes an excellent specimen plant with its forty-inch tall flower stems in the garden. When massed in large numbers it provides a spectacular show of brilliant white flowers (with a yellow centre.
Shasta daisies and their mid-summer blooms make them a backbone plant for the perennial garden and other plants that will go well with it include: Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ or Veronica ‘Royal Candles’. I note that Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ blooms almost all summer right along with Becky so the combination will last a long time
Perovskia with its grey foliage and blue flowers is also a good combination next to ‘Becky’
You might try planting a brilliant red annual such as salvia in front of ‘Becky’ to go for a red-white combination that will be quite dynamic in the garden.
This is quite common on plants that are two years or more old. Simply dig up the plant, remove the dead center section and replant the babies from around the cente
Many of you would like to know how to get extra plants once you purchase your first hybrid ‘Becky’ and have grown it for a season.
The good news is that this plant will root easily from a soft or tip cutting (one that easily bends) or it can be divided easily in the spring or fall to give extra plants.
I divide it in the spring in my garden (I hope to plant at least one plant this summer as a trial) as then I could see what was alive or dead. You will see some dying out in the centre of old plants and all you have to do is dig up the entire plant, throw away the dead centre and replant the babies from around the edges. As long as they have a bit of root on them, they will be fine and you’ll have a garden full in two seasons. You’ll get more detailed plant propagation tips here.
And for the lover of plant names, ‘Becky’ is actually a Leucanthemum in the Superbum group. Shasta daisies used to be members of the Chrysanthemum family but were moved over to the Leucanthemum in a general name switch a few years ago.
What is interesting is that the Shasta was first bred by that interesting plantsman Luther Burbank in 1890. He named it “Shasta” because he apparently thought the petals were as white as the snow on top of Mount Shasta in California.
Whatever the plants history or name, ‘Becky’ is one of the great perennial flowers and beginner and garden expert alike will enjoy the flowers produced by this new award winning perennial.