If you've ever walked along the coast 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 (Erigeron glaucus) 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 rolling in off the ocean. It can tolerate salt spray and can flower as late as January.
Seaside daisy works well in border plantings or in an area where you're looking for 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 also tolerate blazing summer temperatures. It prefers to grow in heavy clay soil but will also fare well in sand.
Seaside daisy 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, keeping soil consistently moist, until it's established. If you live in a drier climate that does not receive summer fog drip, water once a week. A 3-inch layer of mulch can help conserve moisture and will add nutrition to the flower over time as it gradually breaks down.
Native butterflies like native plants, but seaside daisy is special. It has such a long flowering season that, as long as your winters aren't too cold, it can provide a nectar source even in the dead of winter. Seaside daisy 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 cultivars and hybrids available at nurseries that carry California native plants. For a very compact and tidy form, look for a hybrid called 'Wayne Roderick.' It has glossy foliage and delicate purple flowers. For a tougher and more drought-tolerant variety, try 'Cape Sebastian.'
Photos courtesy of Penny Wilson. Original article by Penny Wilson. Penny is a gardening writer who specializes in California native plants.