Daisies belong to the asteraceae family; although the name of margherita was originally given only to the various species of the genus leucanthemum, today they are called many daisies, of various species.
The real daisies
As we have said, the right term to designate the inflorescence is "head". It is composed of a large number of individual flowers, known as flocules. These may have two forms: tubulose (like those in the center of "daisies") or ligulate (those that we would commonly, but erroneously designate as petals). They can properly be termed "disk flowers" and "ray flowers" respectively.
The daisy is a small perennial herbaceous, belonging to the asteraceae family, called leucanthemum, or also chrysanthemum leucanthemum; produces the particular inflorescences typical of asteraceae, consisting of very small yellow flowers, which give rise to a fleshy golden center, on whose perimeter there are small flowers with only one white petal; they are commonly found in uncultivated meadows throughout most of Europe, and bloom in the spring period. There are various colored flower hybrids, pink, yellow, cream, and even some with flowering that lasts throughout the summer. Many species of the genus chrysanthemum produce flowers similar to daisies, but of the most varied sizes and colors, from bright red to bright pink.
Gerberas are also commonly called daisies, also called daisies; it is a perennial of medium or large size, originating from South Africa, and therefore not very suitable for living in European gardens; it is often grown as an annual in the garden, or as a houseplant during the cold months.
The heads of the gerberas are large, and are much appreciated as cut flowers. They need to be positioned in a bright place, but not directly hit by direct sunlight, watering must be regular, always waiting for the soil to dry well between one watering and another; the foliage of the gerberas is delicate and large, to prevent it from being affected by fungal diseases it is advisable to guarantee the plants good ventilation, especially if they are grown at home.
Very appreciated as a pot, cutting or bedding plant for the particularity of being extremely large and with a very regular shape. The shades in which it is available range from white to yellow and orange, including the full range of reds and pinks. The average height is 60 cm and flowering (if not forced) takes place between May and October. It must be cultivated in not too calcareous soil and absolutely avoid any type of stagnation that is frequently the cause of radical rot. The soil must therefore be composed of abundant seasoned organic matter and a lot of sand. Great attention should also be paid to irrigation, using it only when strictly necessary.
They are rather rustic, but in the Center-North they must always be mulched with a thick layer of leaves and straw to preserve them above all from sudden frosts that could be fatal.
There are other species of daisies originating in southern Africa; these are the gazanias, and also the osteospermum, also called dimorphoteca. These plants are perennial in places of origin; in Italy they are cultivated in the garden, but often they do not survive excessively rigid winters, they must therefore be sheltered in winter or mulched with leaves or straw. In reality they are generally grown as annuals, because the young plants produce better blooms than the plants of a few years. If in the climate of the place where we live these plants survive the winter, we can always keep them young by dividing the loaves of roots: in autumn we dig up the plants and practice some portions, keeping a good quantity of leaves and roots for each portion, then we put again to stay the new plants distancing them, to allow them to develop the following spring.
The most widespread daisies in the gardens
There are a large number of plants that produce inflorescences with this shape and are really available in a large number of sizes and colors. They are much appreciated for their apparent simplicity, but also for their resistance and extraordinary ability to attract insects, in particular butterflies and bees. They are therefore very suitable for flowerbeds, borders, natural meadows, but also, if small in size, even to the rock garden.
We therefore give a description of the most popular and widespread on the market.
Beautiful perennial suitable as a ground cover or for the rock garden. Native to Europe, Asia and North America, it can be found in our country in its spontaneous state on all the Alps (although, unfortunately, it is increasingly rare). It wants a possibly limestone, fresh, but well-drained soil. The ideal exposure is the partial shade, above all to protect it from the strong summer heat that could seriously damage it. It produces large flower heads on erect stems: the local species has lilac ligules with a yellow disc, but cultivars in white and pink and almost red are also available in cultivation.
It is the field daisy with white ray flowers and yellow disc. It is endemic to Europe and in Italy it can be found almost everywhere as spontaneous, especially in hill and mountain meadows. Very rustic and very suitable for the natural garden and, if kept tidy, also for the border. Much loved by insects: in particular it is an irresistible call for butterflies.
It is generally referred to as "daisy", although, in reality, it is a chrysanthemum. It is native to Europe and in particular to the Pyrenees. It also grows spontaneously with great vigor, with tall and robust stems (up to 90 cm in height). Its weak point is undoubtedly the leaves, which are a bit coarse, even if they are a nice bright green and deeply dentate. The flowers of the crown are white, while the disc is yellow. The overall diameter is about 8 cm. They are produced from the middle of July until November, especially if the plant is kept clean with continence. It is a very easy plant, suitable for sunny to shady exposures. The breeders have succeeded in obtaining numerous cultivars: they are present double flowers, white flowers and more compact individuals and adaptable to small green spaces. It adapts very well to the natural garden, to the flower beds and also to the mixed border.
The genus includes about seventy perennial or annual species originating in southern Africa and Arabia. The ray flowers range from yellow to orange to pink and purple. The flower heads in general are very regular, although there are cultivars with slightly curled ligules that give a very particular effect.
Flowering, if taken care of, can last safely throughout the season. They can therefore be considered excellent for growing in pots, for borders, for flowerbeds and even for the rock garden, given that they tolerate poor and dry soils quite well. The ideal exposure is always full sun, even if they manage to bloom well in light shade.
In the Center-South they can easily be treated as perennials, by blending the base well. In the North they definitely need to be withdrawn indoors or in greenhouses.
Particular and beautiful daisy with a blue flower, also known as Agathea or Aster Capensis. It can be considered annual or perennial depending on the climate in which we live. In Central and Southern Italy it usually has no problem overcoming winter, while in the North it must certainly be withdrawn at least in a cold greenhouse.
It is native to South Africa and Abyssinia.
They can be used both as pot and cutting plants, and to create irregular spots in lawns and borders. The ideal exposure is always the full sun, even if they tolerate a light shade rather well. They bloom from spring to late autumn, with a break in the hottest period of the year. They like fresh but well-drained soils and constant fertilization.
Extraordinary summer daisies, beloved by butterflies, with sturdy stems and protruding disc flowers. Native to North America, it is characterized by rough dark green leaves and large solitary inflorescences in colors ranging from pink to red to white, up to yellow and orange. There are also innumerable cultivars with double ligules, which are very special to include in the garden.
Echinaceas thrive in a deep soil, rich in humus and well drained. They must always be well mulched during the winter to prevent the hypogeum apparatus from rotting and losing specimens as a result. Very hot summers, however, are rarely a problem.
Flowering occurs in the middle of summer, but if you quickly remove the withered flower heads you can see a second one in mid-autumn.
The very lively flowers of the rudbeckia are really precious in the garden, thanks to their warm shades, from yellow to orange to reddish-brown, and to the characteristic of flowering when the summer is about to fade. They are easy to grow, but you should always keep in mind that they always prefer rather moist soils and a sunny exposure. In the shade, unfortunately, they tend to grow a lot and can then be more easily knocked down by the wind or by the autumn rains. Normally they reach between 60 and 100 cm in height. There are several interesting cultivars, for example: Rudbeckia sullivanti goldstrum, Rudbeckia hirta Goldilocks, Rudbeckia lancinata Hortensia.
Very popular annuals and perennials, with long slender stems and fern-like leaves. They create a perfect set that looks like fake flowers. They are very easy to grow, especially lovers of sunny positions and well-drained soils. The annual varieties are obtained easily and with seed speed, proceeding when the daytime temperatures have exceeded 16 ° C.
The height goes from 60 to 90 cm, the corollas are declined in colors from white to pink up to red, throughout the summer.
They are excellent as a cut flower, but they adapt very well to the flower beds and borders. Beautiful also included in the natural garden or in the meadows.
Mixtures characterized by colors and above all different heights are available on the market.
Cosmos atrosanguineus is also very popular, perennial, with reddish brown, velvety ligules and a subtle but very pleasant scent of chocolate. It is rather sensitive to cold and therefore needs to be repaired during the winter.
Daisies: Bellis perennis or marguerite
Another plant that is often referred to by the generic name of margherita is the bellis perennis or pratolina. The marguerite is an asteracea spread in a natural and spontaneous way in all the meadows from the plain to the hill and low mountain. It blooms during the entire summer season and with particular vigor at the beginning of spring.
In addition to being very beautiful aesthetically, the marguerite has flowers that are edible and are often used raw to dress salads or cooked to enrich omelettes and vegetables. Even the bellis leaves are edible but should be picked from the basal rosette at the beginning of the season when they are still fresh.
Even you are pleasant to see when it flowers because of its colors, the marguerite is considered a weed in the grassy carpets because with its broad leaves of the basal rosette it forms small bushes in the garden not very appreciable from the aesthetic point of view. Most of the times it is advisable to mechanically remove the bellis that grow inside a grassy carpet, to avoid recurring to selective herbicides which, although extremely effective if used in large quantities, are also pollutants for the environment.
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