Pyrethrum daisy is but one of the many plants that bear the name “daisy,” but it’s certainly an alluring one.
Also known as painted daisy, Tanacetum coccineum produces showy, 3-inch-wide flowers in a variety of brilliant hues, including red, yellow, white, violet, and pink. The colorful petals fan out from a large central disk that’s golden in color, and they bloom from early to mid-summer.
The flowers, which are often used in bouquets and cut flower arrangements, grace the tops of stiff stalks adorned by frilly, fern-like leaves.
Native to southwestern Asia, this non-aggressive, non-invasive perennial grows in bushy clumps 1 to 3 feet tall and 1½ to 2 feet wide.
The deer-resistant plant, formerly classified as Chrysanthemum coccineum, is hardy in zones 3-7.
Painted daisy flowers are commercially cultivated to produce pyrethrins, a natural insecticide.
In northern parts of its growing area, this plant does best in full sun. But in hotter areas, it appreciates afternoon shade.
You may be able to find starts at a garden center, or you can propagate painted daisy by seed or division.
Divide plants in spring or early fall, and water well. Sow seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last expected frost at 60 to 70°F. You’ll see activity from your seeds in 7 to 14 days.
Transplant seedlings outdoors when all danger of frost is past. Or seed directly outside when freezing temperatures are in the rearview mirror.
Pyrethrum daisy is happy in ordinary, well-drained soil.
Care and Feeding
Once established, painted daisies appreciate moderate water. While their roots are developing, you can be more generous with your watering.
Pinch the plants back in the spring when they’re about 8 inches tall; this will promote a bushy form. Deadhead after their first bloom to encourage a second blooming.
You might want to divide your painted daisies after three or four years, because they can get crowded.
Feed pyrethrum a balanced fertilizer monthly throughout the growing period. Some gardeners add a boost of phosphorous right before the bloom season to encourage profuse flowering.
Because T. coccineum flowers have insecticidal characteristics, mature plants aren’t typically bothered by bugs, and in fact are sometimes added to the landscape to keep bugs away from nearby plantings.
Young plants, however, might be pestered by chrysanthemum nematodes, aphids, or leaf miners. Treat these pests with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
We recommend this 24-ounce bottle of Advanced NATRIA Insecticidal Soap from Bayer, available via Amazon. This odorless spray can be used indoors as well as out.
Bonide organic neem oil is also available from Amazon. It kills insects at all lifecycle stages including eggs, larvae, and adults.
Constant Color: Where to Buy
Many varieties are available. If you’re looking for lots of color, you might try this well-regarded mixture, available from True Leaf Market.
The packet contains 1000 seeds that produce 24-inch plants with 2½- to 3-inch blooms in bright pink, rose, and red.
This ‘James Kelway’ cultivar produces a deep wine-colored flower with a bright yellow center.
You’ll get 1000 seeds that produce particularly good cut flowers that bloom in early summer. This variety is available via Amazon.
Beauty and a Little Help Around the Garden
You could say daisies are a dime a dozen. But the easy care and splashy colors of T. coccineum truly make painted daisy a million-dollar standout for gardeners in zones 3-7.
And not only is it a beautiful addition to the landscape, it pays its caretaker back by shooing away bugs from nearby plants.
Have you grown this particular daisy? How’d it do for you? Please share tips for other gardeners in the comments section below. And get growing tips for a blue-hued daisy here.
Product photos via Bayer, Bonide, True Leaf Market, Hazzard’s Seeds. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.
About Gretchen Heber
A former garden editor for a daily newspaper in Austin, Texas, Gretchen Heber goes through entirely too many pruners and garden gloves in a year’s time. She’s never met a succulent she didn’t like and gets really irritated every 3-4 years when Austin actually has a freeze cold enough to kill them. To Gretchen, nothing is more rewarding than a quick dash to the garden to pluck herbs to season the evening meal. And it’s definitely time for a happy dance when she’s able to beat the squirrels to the peaches, figs, or loquats.