If you have ever walked along the sea in central California, you may have seen this pretty little flower and thought it was an escapee from a garden; it seems out of place in such a rugged environment. Seaside Daisy is a hardy native that feels at home amid coastal scrub and sand dunes, or clinging to coastal bluffs. Seaside Daisy likes mild climates, and thrives on the fog blowing in from the ocean. It can tolerate salt spray and still flower in January.
Seaside Daisy works well in border plantings or in an area where you need a constant source of color. With regular water it can be encouraged to flower all year in milder climates but needs no water to survive after it is established in its native range. Seaside Daisy is cold-hardy to about 15°F and can tolerate summer temperatures exceeding 110°F. It prefers to grow in heavy clay soil but will also fare well in sand.
This is one adaptable little plant. You can grow Seaside Daisy inland if you keep it well watered and protected from intense afternoon sun. If you live in an area that receives more than 20 inches of precipitation annually, just plant Seaside Daisy in native soil and water till established. If you live in a drier climate that does not receive summer fog drip, water once a week. Surface mulch can help conserve moisture and over time add nutrition for your Seaside Daisy.
Native butterflies like native plants, but Seaside Daisy is special. It has such a long flowering season that it can provide a nectar source even in the dead of winter if your climate is not too cold. It also works great for attracting pollinators to your vegetable garden. Use it in between vegetable beds and more drought-tolerant landscaping to increase your vegetable yields.
There are many Seaside Daisy (Erigeron glaucus) cultivars and hybrids available at nurseries that carry California native plants. For a very compact and tidy form, use the hybrid 'Wayne Roderick'. It has glossy foliage and delicate purple flowers. For a tougher and more drought-tolerant variety, choose the cultivar 'Cape Sebastian'. Or look for many other interesting cultivars at your local native plant nursery including Las Pilitas.
Photos courtesy of Penny Wilson. Article by Penny Wilson. Penny is a gardening writer who specializes in California native plants.