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Past Articles Library | How to Grow the Livingstone Daisy

The other day, I was at a friend’s house and noticed some daisy-like plants growing in her flower garden.  Boy, did they look like daisies but there was one big difference and that was the color.  While some where white with black centers, the others were cream, pink, red, orange, and even fuchsia.  How beautiful and colorful these flowers were outside but when I went inside her home, I discovered a breathtaking arrangement made with the same flowers.  As I admired and inquired about these flowers, I was quick to learn that they were Livingstone Daisies.

While a Livingstone Daisy looks like a daisy, it does not belong to the same plant family that true daisies do.  Having said that though, they do produce flowers in colors that true daisies do not and in doing so can add that splash of color where white daisies would get lost.

When it comes to planting your Livingstone Daisy, the first thing you need to do is to plan on where in the garden you plan on placing your daisy look alike.  This plant really is not picky about the soil type and really prefers a soil that is a little on the rocky side.  In doing so, they fit into rock gardens or areas with rocky soil.  To get the most out of your Livingstone Daisy, you will need to pick a location that receives at least eight hours of sunlight a day.  The more sunlight this plant gets the more blooms you will be rewarded with. 

Once you have your location selected, the next step is to prepare the site. This means you need to remove any unwanted plant material and loosen the soil up.  At this point, you have two choices.  One, you can plant your Livingstone Daisy seed right into the garden space but this should only be done after your local frost free date has passed.  While this technique will work the problem with this approach is the fact that you will have to wait longer for blooms to appear and since this plant is an annual, you may not want to wait. 

The second approach is to start your seeds indoors six to eight week prior to your local frost free date. 

If you choose the latter approach, the first step of this process is to clean and sterilize the container you plan on using to plant your seed.  To do this task, you will first need to fill a basin with water and a capful of bleach.  Place your container in the basin and soak for five minutes.  Next, scrub off any dirt and debris.  Rinse the container in clear water and sit out to dry.

Once the container has dried, fill it with a good, all-purpose potting soil mix that has been moistened with water.  Sprinkle the soil’s surface with the seeds and top with 1/8 inch of soil.  While the seed is small and you may feel that you do not need to cover it, Livingstone Daisy seed requires darkness to germinate. 

Place your planted container in a sunny location and monitor soil moisture.  Water only when the soil feels dry.  In two to three weeks, your seeds should begin to germinate.  Once you see the seeds start to germinate, remove any soil that may be on top of them.

After the seedlings have formed their second set of true leaves, transplant into individual pots.

As the weather warms up, gradually expose the seedlings to the outdoor environment.  This process is called hardening off and should be done about one to two weeks prior to you planting outside. 

When it comes to planting Livingstone Daisies in the ground, one should first mark out the space. While this annual only grows to about 10 inches in height, it can spread to about a foot.  To get the most out of your Livingstone Daisies, make sure to space them out so that they have 6 to 9 inches between plants.  After the area has been marked, dig holes that are the same depth as the container and twice the width.  Next, gently remove the plant from its container by either cutting it away or tipping the pot upside down and tenderly tapping the bottom of the container.  At this point, the plant should come out.  If it does not, repeat the process. 

You may notice that the roots of the plant seem to be confined.  To get the roots to grow outward, simply run your fingers through the root mass to loosen up the roots.  At this point, place the plant in a saucer of water and allow to soak for a few minutes. This will moisten the roots before planting and reduce some planting shock.  Next, place the plant in the proper hole and fill in.  Repeat the process with the remaining plants.  Once all the plants have been planted, add water until the ground is evenly moist. 

As far as additional care goes, Livingstone Daisies really do not have any problems.  They can tolerate some drought.  To keep them blooming, harvest the flowers often and they will reward you with blooms from summer to fall. 

On the other hand, if you do not harvest the blooms often you may be missing out on a great opportunity.  While the Livingstone Daisy is an annual, it will reseed itself if the seedpods are allowed to ripen and rupture on their own or you can collect the seeds yourself and repeat the process described previously. 

If you would love to grow Livingstone Daisies but feel you just do not have the room, do not worry.  They grow wonderfully in a container garden and provide a dramatic display when they are planted in window boxes. 

Regardless of what type of container you choose to use, the planting process starts off with cleaning and sterilizing the pot.  Once that is done, place drainage material in the bottom of the container.  Fill the container with a well-draining, potting soil.  Plant your Livingstone Daisies in the container.  To encourage growth and flowering, add a slow release fertilizer at this stage and water in. 

Keep in mind though, that planting this annual in a container probably will not result in voluntary germination of seed next year.


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Keep Seedlings Moist

When you have just planted seeds, keep the soil moist until germination.

If the soil dries out, the seeds will die.

After germination, allow the soil to dry out a bit between waterings, but keep a close eye on the seedlings until they are well established.

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