Growing Paper Daisies
The vibrantly coloured paper daisy beds at Lakeside and the Connections Garden are on of the most popular features at Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan during spring. With some attention to soil preparation and fertilising, there is a good range of species and cultivars that are very responsive to cultivation and rewarding for the home gardener.
The paper daisies that you see flowering at the Australian Botanic Garden during our Wildflower Festival are native to Western Australia, where they carpet huge expanses of some parts of the countryside in spring.
William Dampier collected the first Australian daisy, a Brachyscome, in 1699 from Shark Bay in Western Australia. Many Australian daisies were introduced into cultivation in Europe before the middle of the 19th century and theywere very popular in the colony from the 1860s until the turn of the century.
Xerochrysum bracteata (previously known as Helichrysum bracteatum) is believed to be the first cultivated Australian daisy and the first of our native plants to be hybridised. German horticulturists hybridised it and released it to European gardeners in the 1850s. Within a decade, many different forms were listed in colonial catalogues.
Paper daisies are best grown when you follow the natural growth cycle, which starts with direct sowing in autumn as the soil cools down. Plants will grow slowly through the winter months, developing a strong root system, and flower prolifically in spring. Direct seeding with paper daisies gives you the opportunity to create informal drifts of Australian colour in your garden.
Achieve the best results with a good proportion of washed river sand and well-rotted compost. The soil must be free of weeds, with adequate weed control preferably taking place during the month prior to planting.
Sowing the seeds
Paper daisy seeds are very lightweight, so avoid windy days.
Mix each seed batch separately with half a bucket of normal sand/compost potting mix for each square metre of garden bed. Work on a rate of 3 grams of seed per square metre. This rate can be reduced if pure seed is purchased. Brachyscomes are sown at a rate of 1 gram per square metre.
Broadcast the seed/soil mix evenly across the surface of the prepared bed. The soil mix will help keep the seed from drying out.
Seed can also be direct sown into tubs for a colourful spring display.
Water and fertiliser
Keep the soil surface moist until germination commences (normally after one week) and apply snail bait or similar control.
When plants reach a height of 10-15 cm apply a general purpose liquid fertiliser, such as ‘Aquasol’ or ‘Thrive’ at three-weekly intervals.
The flower display is usually September through to November depending on sowing time.
The best types to grow
Other types to grow