Delinquent Daisies

Oxeye_Daisy_TaylorCanyon_2008jul14_LAH_006-001They sound pretty good— perennial plants that:

  • Are hardy in Colorado, even in the mountains
  • Grow a compact one to two feet tall
  • Are covered with eye-catching white daisies in mid-summer
  • Grow in almost any soil
  • Bloom in full sun or partial shade

But wait. These plants also:

  • Are short-lived
  • Produce a lot of seeds (up to 200 per flower head)
  • Spread from rhizomatous roots, or even pieces of roots
  • Spread by seeds which may be viable for years
  • Carry several crop diseases
  • Displace native plants
  • Are listed as noxious weeds in many states, including Colorado

Oxeye daisies are lovely, which is why they were originally imported from Europe. Their invasive qualities, however, have made them unwelcome, and they’re included on the Colorado noxious weed list. That means it’s illegal to plant them or grow them in your yard.

I wrote an article a couple of years ago warning Colorado gardeners about “Bad Daisies,” but unfortunately the message hasn’t gotten out. (I guess not everyone reads this blog.) I was searching for recommendations of perennials suitable for our new garden when I came across an article on the K99 radio website. Under the title “Garden Club — What Are the Best Flowers to Plant in Colorado?” the article recommends five annuals and five perennials. You guessed it—one of the suggested plants was oxeye daisy!

I don’t expect a radio station to carefully vet its gardening information, but I expect more from a well-known organization whose focus is on conservation and the environment. Yes, Audubon created a lovely poster showing wildflowers in the Rockies, and look at the flowers they chose to depict.

Local garden centers know they aren’t allowed to sell these pretty plants. (Don’t confuse them with Shasta Daisies, which are well-behaved and perfectly legal.) However, oxeye daisies are not illegal in every state, so you can buy both plants and seeds online. It’s up to us, the gardeners, to check before ordering seeds to ensure we aren’t growing garden delinquents. You can find a complete list of Colorado’s noxious weeds, complete with photos, at the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s website.

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