The flowers called daisies are all members of the aster family but differ in hardiness, culture and bloom period. In addition to the traditional white Shasta daisy, several other daisies grow in most U.S. hardiness zones. Unfortunately, "daisy" is a common name and scientific names shift from time to time. Whatever their names, though, cutting gardens yield long-lasting bouquets all summer when planted with several varieties of these sun-loving flowers.
Shasta daisies bloom from late spring to early fall on 1- to 3-foot plants. Once classified as chrysanthemums, Shastas are now Leucanthemum x superbum. They have a tendency to droop over, but if they are cut frequently and deadheaded when blooms begin to fade, they will continue to bloom all summer long. They will continue their vigorous bloom if mature clumps are divided every two or three years and the non-productive center of the clump is discarded. Shastas' twisted stems may limit their usefulness to small arrangements and bouquets. As cut flowers, Shasta daisies last a week to 10 days.
Another variety, painted daisies (Tanacetum coccineum), blooms in white, yellows, reds and pinks beginning in midsummer. Plants grow about 2 feet tall and strong stems bear flowers from midsummer to early fall. White painted daisies will change color when food coloring is added to their water. Painted daisies last from a week to 10 days when water is kept fresh.
Michaelmas daisies (Aster novae-angliae) grow tallest of all the daisies -- up to 5 feet -- bearing purple, lavender, pink, red and white flowers. They bloom late summer through fall and, like most daisies, prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Cut when they are fully open, Michaelmas daisies stay fresh in arrangements and vases from five to 10 days.
White and pastel yellow Marguerite daisies (Anthemis tinctoria) bloom in summer on 2- to 3-foot plants. Short-lived Marguerites tolerate drought and frequent division. Picked just as they begin to open, summer-blooming Marguerites stay fresh up to 10 days in clean water.
Ox-eye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) grow from 1 to 3 feet tall and are classified as invasive weeds in some states due to the aggressive growth of their rhizomes. White flowers of Leucanthemum vulgare measure less than 2 inches across and are drought tolerant. Cut blooms last between five and 10 days.
Gerber daisies (Gerbera jamesonii or Gerbera x hybrid), native to the Traansvaal area of South Africa, grow as tender perennials or container plants in temperate zones of the United States. They bloom in spring and summer in semi-tropical zones where they can grow year-round. Blooms vary from 3 to 5 inches across and come in red-orange, salmon, pinks, yellow and white. Flowers last 10 days if water is changed every few days and stems are trimmed underwater daily.