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In the News

Memorable Marguerites by Anna Haller

Suzanne White

Last fall, via a tempting mail-order offer,  I acquired some plants called ‘marguerites’.  Not knowing too much about these plants—except that they are a subspecies of daisy—and as  the planting season was rapidly expiring, I planted them in a hurry at the edge of my raised bed. For the longest time, they just sat there in a forlorn state as if about to capitulate to an early demise. But an uncongenial winter failed to administer the finishing blow,  and by mid-spring my marguerites were showing promise of living up to their advertised claims. 

 Their leaves are finely cut—almost fern-like—and  silvery gray green; or sage-green  in the afternoon light, changing to a rich grassy green after a rain.

Published authorities disagree about marguerites: The Southern Living Garden Guide says they are short-lived shrubby perennials which,  in our zone 7,  should be treated as annuals. On the other hand,  the Mid South Gardening Guide characterizes them as hardy in the ground in our zone. I can only go by my own experience which is that my two little plants survived the nasty winter and bloomed commendably this spring. And they’ve effloresced continuously through the heavy early-spring rains and the succeeding heat wave and drought.

 The plants are luxuriant with big (one-and-a-half inches) white daisies heads and bright gold centers. They are not unlike shasta daisies but more refined and more opulent. To prolong their performance I deadheaded mine when the white petals disappeared leaving just the big gold button. Mine are planted  in part-sun, that is morning sun with some afternoon shade. I have been watering during this drought.

 The marguerite’s botanical name is chrysanthemum frutescens or argyranthemum frutescens. They are also known as “Paris daisies.” Being part of the “mum” family means that they should be easily propagated, and in fact they are: I accidentally broke off a shoot at the base of the plant, pushed it into the surrounding soil, and it took. Incidentally, there are pink varieties and doubles, but I couldn’t say if these would be as hardy as my version of marguerites.

 The gardening books say deer won’t eat marguerites, but they do munch on my chrysanthemum flower heads (though not the leaves—not that that helps any). So I’m not planting them where the deer can get to them.

 I recommend this plant.  Give it a try; maybe you’ll like it.