Planting Wild Flowers
The most common everlasting species, Rhodanthe chlorocephala subspecies rosea, is familiar to most with the mass displays at Kings Park Botanic Garden each spring. Mixed shades of pinks and white, some with black centres, always draw admiration and interest from the visitors.
When to plant WA native daisies – plan for an April/May planting
Seeds need to be planted soon after first rains in mid to late April/early May in Australia. The old adage of planting after Anzac Day is a good one. The germination of everlastings is governed by access to light, moist soil for more than three days and well-ripened seed.
Seeds planted mid-April usually start flowering in July with longer flowering species, such as Brachyscome, continuing into late spring and early summer. Late planted crops, though shorter and less vigorous, still provide a colourful display.
Daisies grown as a decorative field need to be selected to give each species its own room to provide the scattered colourful effect
How to plant seed of native Western Australian daisies
When the bed is ready, rake the planting area to create an uneven surface to prevent the seed from blowing away in wind. Spread the seed evenly but sparingly over surface. In an existing or newly planted garden bed, the seed should be sown more in open designated spaces and not close to other plants as they can become smothering, especially to newly planted plants. Small seed can be mixed with some soil for even spreading.
Rake over again very lightly and water with a spray head to stabilise the seed. Depending on rainfall, further watering is only necessary if dry periods occur during and after germination until the plants are established. Once growing well, natural rainfall should be sufficient.
Any weeds which may still appear are best to be removed with therapeutic hand weeding where possible. This is done early so as not to disturb the growing daisies. Once sown, a watering with smoke water solution will encourage germination of a greater range of species sown.
The growing plants standing straight can be lightly trimmed or tip pruned anytime up to around 10cm tall to increase flowering buds. After the tips turn downwards, it is too late as the flower heads are forming.
Planting native daisies in pots
Daises do well in pots and provide masses of spring colour. The pots can be used for individual species or mixed species creating mini ecosystems in a pot.
There are also wonderful novelty species with mysterious shapes and forms which make great pot plants for creative children, such as Actinobole uglinosum, Chthonocephalus pseudevax and Siloxerus filifolius.
A top quality potting mix is best for pot culture. The daises often grow more vigorously in a pot due to the richer soil mix and shelter from the elements.
The size of the pots depends on the length of the daisy species stems. Select pots to balance the size of final plant growth, which maybe up to 20cm to 30cm or taller, for a collection of species.
Small seed is scattered, not too densely, over the surface, to prevent mature plants growing too lush and overflowing the pots. A light scattering of soil over the seed will stabilize it on the surface. Water in lightly.
Pots may be placed on saucers to keep water available as necessary during dry winter spells. Place in full sun position, away from any excess wind. Turn pots occasionally.
Dealing with native daisy pests
Snails! It is always worth doing a snail kill at least twice in the two weeks before planting seed. Devise your own methods of exterminating them.
Check for aphids on forming buds, caterpillars eating young plants and forming buds, and cutworms chewing off small new seedlings.
Water spray may dislodge aphids, and caterpillars and cut worms can be collected if searched for.
Minor amendments to Jim Barrow sand Hazel E. Dempster’s – “Daisy, daisy: how to grow native daisies for maximum impact”
About the authors
Jim Barrow and Hazel E. Dempster are members of the Wildflower Society of Western Australia.
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