A recent visit to The Landings shopping center in Columbus, Ga., taught me a little lesson. I have been too restricted in my thinking when it comes to selecting plants for mixed containers, Shasta daisies to be exact.
I love Shastas, and always have, but shoot they were for cottage gardens, wildflower patches and picturesque perennial plots. I just never thought about the joy shoppers would receive by their beauty as they passed mixed containers going from their cars to their favorite restaurants or boutiques.
However, while I have treasured varieties like Becky the Perennial Plant of the Year and best all-around Shasta ever, and the delectable looking Ice Star, I had never tried Banana Cream.
That sounds edible, too! Banana Cream has been out a few years and is the first Shasta with creamy yellow overtones. The 4- to 5-inch flowers are produced over an extended time. Yes, gardening friends, Shastas are for mixed containers and wherever else you want them in the garden too!
This is the flower that little girls and young ladies alike find most enchanting with dreams of them having a prominent place in their wedding someday. The pristine, glistening white flowers that light up the spring and early summer like no other plant, now comes with a dash of creamy yellow.
The Shasta daisy whether you choose Banana Cream, Becky or the famous Mt. Hood, in more northern areas, can last in the garden for a number of years with proper bed preparation. Choose a site with six hours of sun and a little afternoon shade protection.
The soil must be fertile, organic-rich, moist, and very well drained. If plagued by tight heavy soil that doesn’t drain, then amend with 3 to 4 inches of organic matter and till to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. This regimen gives clear indication why they have the ability to work so well in mixed containers as potting soil certainly drains freely.
Space plants 12 to 15 inches apart. Plant at the same depth they are growing in the container. Apply a layer of mulch after planting. Of course, in mixed, designer type containers you’ll be using the Shasta most likely as a pocket or filler type plant complementing all of the other companions.
Maintain moisture through the long, hot summer and feed with a light application of fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks. Keep the flowers deadheaded for both a tidy look and increased flower production. Vigorous varieties like Banana Cream and Becky will repeat.
Divide in the fall, spacing as recommended. This will be a yearly event if you want the best blooms and healthiest plants. In the exclusive shopping center mixed-containers, the plants will be removed in time for cool season color, but they did their job, as the shopping experience felt as though you were in the ‘Garden of Eden’. You, on the other hand, can leave yours in the container or better yet move to the landscape in the fall.
In the landscape, Shasta daisies should be grown boldly, in sweeping drifts of color. They combine wonderfully with blue salvias, purple coneflowers, and the old-fashioned cut-flower type zinnias.
Shasta daisies are native to Portugal and the Pyrenees and yet they look as if they were born for Grandma’s cottage garden and yes, mixed containers too. There is nothing that will put a spring in your step and a joy in your mood quite like a Shasta. If you have forgotten about them for a while check out your garden center, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Norman Winter is a horticulturist, garden speaker and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.Reach