No Thanks
Keep In Touch With

Sign up and we'll send inspiration straight to you.

Martha Stewart takes your privacy seriously. To learn more, please read our Privacy Policy.

Shasta Daisy Guide

Martha Stewart Living, March 2004

Shasta History
The story of the Shasta daisy is the story of Luther Burbank. Reared on a farm in Massachusetts, he became a market gardener at 19, discovered and sold a blight-resistant potato, and moved to Santa Rosa, California, where he deemed the soil and climate perfect for growing almost anything. As he experimented, Burbank never forgot New England's lovely ox-eye daisy, L. vulgare, a "weed," accidentally brought by early European settlers, that had naturalized itself.

Burbank envisioned a perfected ox-eye: taller, with a sturdier stem and larger flower that would show off its pure-white petals and summery golden eye. He started with ox-eye daisies grown from seed gathered back East, and let the bees do the pollinating. Next, he manually crossed the best of these plants' offspring with the larger-flowered English field daisy, L. maximum. The resulting hybrids were then crossed with the Portuguese field daisy, L. lacustre. And to regain the snowy-white petal that had been lost along the way, the following generation was pollinated with the bright-white Montauk, or Nippon daisy, Nipponanthemum nipponicum. Presto: the Shasta.

Burbank publicly released the Shasta daisy (which was originally classified as a Chrysanthemum) in 1901, and soon followed that with other selections: 'California,' 'Westralia,' and cold-hardy 'Alaska.' Since then, many other breeders have extended and re-imagined the classic Shasta form: a flat-headed single flower, two to three inches in diameter, with pure-white petals and a golden eye, rising two to two and a half feet above dark-green, toothy foliage. Today dozens of named cultivars are available. Can a classic be greatly improved? Perhaps not, but in the garden, nuance is everything.

Shasta Daisy Glossary

Shasta daisies pair pure- or creamy-white petals with a yellow center; they vary in both size and complexity.

1. 'Crazy Daisy'
24 to 28 inches tall; 2- to 4-inch double flower; simple or quilled creamy petals.

2. 'Chiffon'
48 inches tall; 2- to 3-inch double flower; frilly "cut" creamy petals; long blooming.

3. 'Aglaia'
28 inches tall; very sturdy stem; 3- to 4-inch double flower; frilly white petals.

4. 'Little Miss Muffet'
12 inches tall; 2- to 3-inch semidouble flower; pure-white petals.

5. 'Summer Snowball'
28 inches tall; 2- to 3-inch fully double flower; creamy-white petals.

6. 'Silver Prince'
36 inches tall; very sturdy stem; 3- to 4-inch single flower; pure-white petals.

7. 'Alaska'
up to 36 inches tall; 4- inch single flower; pure-white petals.

8. 'Becky'
24 to 36 inches tall; 3- to 4-inch single flower; white petals; late and long flowering; very heat-tolerant.

9. 'Chuck's Delight'
36 inches tall; 4-inch fully double flower; frilly pure-white petals.

10. 'Esther Read'
15 inches tall; 3-inch double flower; pure-white petals; early, long-blooming flowers.

11. 'Marconi'
36 inches tall; 2- to 5-inch double flower; pure-white petals.

12. 'Brent's Choice'
36 inches tall; 4- to 5-inch single flower; pure-white fringed petals.

Growing Shasta Daisies
The care of Shasta daisies is simple, whether you grow them in a small garden bed or in crop rows, as Luther Burbank did at Gold Ridge Experiment Farm, in Sebastapol, California.

  • Shastas prefer full sun and well-drained soil that doesn't stay wet all winter

  • Keep them deadheaded to increase the bloom.

  • Usually short-lived perennials for Zones 5 to 9, Shasta daisies will remain vigorous if you divide the plants every two or three years. These cultural conditions apply to all varieties of Leucanthemum x superbum developed by Burbank and many other plant breeders.

Comments (1)

  • Allison Barr 19 May, 2012

    Where can I purchase "Chucks Delight"? I have been looking everywhere.