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Which daisy? Here's a guide to today's nursery choices.

Which daisy? Here's a guide to today's nursery choices

Dozens of plants are called daisies. Theycome in almost every color and many shapes. Most are easy to grow and extraordinarily prolific.

By June, nursery shelves will bulge withchoices in full flower. You'll get to enjoy a longer bloom season by buying now while spring bloomers still have flowers to come and summer bloomers are just in bud.

Most daisies do best in full sun. Give themreasonably good drainage and minimal fertilizer. Water regularly, but let soil surface dry slightly between waterings.

Here are seven of the easiest and mostpopular; in many nurseries and mail-order catalogs, you'll find dozens more.

Sorting out the bushy types

All of these bloom best in cool weather.Near the coast, they bloom most of the year. Inland, summer heat will soon shut down flower production; for a better return on your summer flower budget, shop for more heat-tolerant choices described on page 242.

When bloom slows down, shear off deadflowers, always leaving several inches of leafy stem behind.

Marguerite (Chrysanthemum frutescens).Probably the most prominent of the daisies in nurseries right now are white, yellow, and pink marguerites on plants up to 4 feet across.

If you buy the smaller 1-gallon-can size,don't skimp on space--they'll be as large as the others by late summer. Plants look lush and healthy for two to three years; then yank them out and start over.

Blue marguerite (Felicia amelloides).Shorter and smaller than the other colors, this bush stays about 18 inches tall and 2 1/2 to 3 feet across. Some kinds have extra-dark blue flowers ("George Lewis', "Midnight', and "Rhapsody in Blue') or larger ones ("San Gabriel', "San Luis', "Santa Anita'). There's also a new white kind ("Hartley's White').

You can save by buying rooted sprigs insixpacks--they'll reach full size by late summer.

Euryops. Often confused with marguerites,these bushes are bigger and longer-lived, with darker yellow flowers. Some kinds have dark green foliage, others gray; both can reach 6 feet tall. You can prune euryops severely to control size or to encourage bushier growth with less risk of fatality than with marguerites.

Four more tough guys

These green-stemmed clumping plantsbloom best in summer. Now is prime planting time.

Shasta daisy (Chrysanthemum maximum).Choose from singles and ruffled doubles, from foot-tall dwarfs to 4-footers. After bloom, but these long-lived perennials back to a low tuft of foliage.

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).This exotically colored cousin of gloriosa daisy has deep pinkish purple petals (technically rays) around a cone of redtipped yellow spines. Petals vary in intensity; buy plants in bloom to get the brightest ones.

Transaval daisy (Gerbera jamesonii). Forthe most glorious color range among daisies, plus long life as a cut flower, this is a favorite. Plant with the fleshy base slightly above ground level and provide excellent drainage. For brighter colors inland, provide midday shade. These plants bloom more profusely with frequent fertilizing. Bait for snails and slugs.

Gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia hirta). Easy-goingand heat tolerant like its cousin purple coneflower, it grows 3 feet tall and about 2 feet wide. There are also 2-foot dwarf forms. Flowers may be single or fully double, and they come in gold, mahogany, or banded with both colors. A collection of many kinds makes a striking border on its own.

In warm climates, plants tend to be short-livedperennials. In cold-winter climates, they often reseed and come up year after year like wildflowers.

Photo: Coral, peach,gold, vermilion, and more-- Transvaal daisies can be ruffled doubles or open-faced singles, with stems 8 to 24 inches tall

Photo: The perfect beginner's border: big show for little effort. Pink, white, yellow, and blue marguerites, deep yellow euryops

Photo: A band of white marguerites marchestoward the sea. In one season, each gallon-can plant spread 3 1/2 feet wide

Photo: Golden, dark-centered gloriosa daisies dominate this summerborder in Orange County, California Plants can grow 3 feet tall and almost as wide
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Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:May 1, 1987
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