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Daisy standouts - from seed.

Sow these 10 now for summer color

THE DAISY FAMILY of flowers is made up of dozens of species that vary widely in plant form and flower color. Started this month from seed, daisies deliver a lot of summer color without draining your budget or drinking much water.

The 10 daisies described here were among the top performers selected from 36 drought-tolerant varieties in testing by UC Cooperative Extension in Santa Cruz County. Plants were evaluated on form, length of bloom time, ease of care, and resistance to disease and insects.

Coreopsis (C. stillmanii 'Golden Rosette'). Mounding plant to 1 foot; yellow 1 1/2-inch flowers; ferny deep green foliage.

Creeping zinnia (Sanvitalia procumbens 'Mandarin Orange'). Compact ground cover 4 to 6 inches tall, spreading to 1 foot or more; orange-yellow 1/2-inch flowers with deep brown centers.

Dahlberg daisy (Dyssodia tenuiloba). Plants form neat mounds to 1 foot tall and 2 feet across; bright yellow 1-inch flowers; ferny foliage.

Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium). Ferny foliage to 2 feet, covered with white 3/4-inch flowers; self-sowing.

Fleabane (Erigeron 'Blue Beauty'). Foliage grows in a neat rosette to 8 inches; purple 1 1/2-inch flowers with yellow centers.

Gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia hirta 'Green Eyes' or 'Irish Eyes'). Upright plant to 2 1/2 feet; golden yellow 4- to 5 inch flowers with olive green centers.

Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia 'Goldfinger'). Upright, dense plant to 3 to 4 feet; red-orange 3-inch flowers; velvety blue-green foliage.

Monarch of the Veldt (Venidium fastuosum 'Zulu Prince'). Mounding plant to 2 feet; creamy white 4-inch flowers with black centers; gray-green foliage.

Palm Springs daisy (Cladanthus arabicus). Compact mounding plant to 1 1/2 feet; golden 1 1/2- to 2-inch flowers; feathery gray-green foliage.

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). Upright plant to 4 to 5 feet; 3 1/2- to 4 1/2-inch blooms ('Bravado' has lavender pink petals; 'White Swan' has fragrant greenish white flowers).

Seed sources. Nurseries may sell seeds for some of the varieties listed here. Seeds of six of the named varieties are available by mail from Thompson & Morgan, (800) 274-7333. Another source is Park Seed Co., (800) 845-3369.

How to sow daisies. Plan to sow seeds directly in the ground. The daisies listed prefer well-drained soil and full sun (feverfew, gloriosa daisy, and purple coneflower tolerate light shade, especially in hot inland areas).

Before sowing, prepare the soil by loosening the top 6 to 8 inches and mix in a complete granular fertilizer (10-10-10). Add compost or other organic matter if the soil is heavy clay, gravelly, or sandy. Rake soil smooth, then scatter seeds. (Follow directions on the seed packet for sowing depth and spacing.) Cover seeds lightly with soil. For best germination, water and keep soil moist. When seedlings have two or three pairs of leaves, thin plants to desired spacing. Water young plants regularly until they are established.
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Author:Lincowski, Emely
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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