The only way I can fully describe Erigeron karvinskianus is to use words like splendorous, billowing, myriads, festooned and floriferous. These little daisies might look like distant cousins of the daisies that you try to remove from your lawns. BUT these ones have utter sophistication written all over them.
They have an attitude of elaborate self-abandonment as they bloom so abundantly.
The plant is easy to grow and so rewarding. Correctly pronouncing Erigeron karvinskianus is probably more challenging! Calling it Mexican Fleabane, Santa Barbara, Stallone or Mexican daisy is so much easier to say and remember.
It grows to approx. 25cm in height. Flowers from June to November in my garden each year. While further south it can stay in flower for up to 9 months of the year.
It produces oily smoke when burnt that repels fleas so hence the common name Fleabane.
Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Karwinsky von Karwin was the Hungarian botanist responsible for introducing this plant to Europe from Mexico. As a result it's been growing in UK gardens since 1836.
Masses of narrow white petals surround the yellow disc florets. Later these petals slowly age to pink and purple. In effect there are many shades of colour gently cascading over pathways, walls and containers all summer long.
A Plant with a Reputation!
Now some things are too good to be true! This little daisy grows too well in some parts of the world. It’s an invasive weed in some countries … but not here in Perthshire. As they say one gardener’s weed is another gardener’s desirable plant. The bees and butterflies love this plant as much as I do. Furthermore it’s also fashionable favourite with many of today’s garden designers.
This little daisy is so versatile in the garden. It looks just as good in a gravel garden. At the front of a border or path. As well as in a container or window box with its soft airy clouds of pastel coloured blooms.
Growing in Scotland
The plant is trouble free, low growing and doesn’t mind inland or coastal gardens. Plant it in a sunny part of the garden in free draining soil. Under those circumstances it should survive our cold damp Scottish winters.
Make sure you don’t pull the plant out in your early spring tidy up as it’s slow to green up. Cut off the old dried stems in mid spring once you see the new growth appearing at the base.
I usually give the plants a little boost of a nitrogen feed to help them along in May.
If the plant is growing in a container feed it with a high potash food during the summer months. Dead heading will encourage repeat flowering and keep the plant looking tidy.
It self-seeds freely in southern parts of the UK. Although it hasn't self seeded in my Perthshire garden over the last 3 years.
Maybe that’s really a blessing in disguise considering its international reputation!