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of the Month

Copper Canyon Daisies

December 9, 2016 Back to Picks >

I�m always on the lookout for native plants that will perform well in my herb garden. Using native plants means lower water needs and greater resistance to the extremes of Texas� rapidly changeable weather.

One of my favorite Texas native herbs is Copper Canyon daisy (Tagetes lemmonii), also known as Mt. Lemmon marigold. When brushed this lacy-leafed perennial shrub has a distinct lemon aroma with camphor undertones. The shrub will grow about three feet high and spread as much as six feet.

In my garden it produces bright yellow flowers about an inch in diameter in late fall. Other growers report seeing flowers throughout the year. To me they look like daisies sprinkled on a field of green leaves.

The name �Copper Canyon� comes from the place where it was first discovered. John Gill Lemmon and his wife Sara were botanists in the late 19th century who focused their research on what would become Arizona and New Mexico. When they reached the Copper Canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains they found this fragrant shrub and named it after themselves, not the lemon scent.

Plant Copper Canyon daisies in light, well-drained soil. This native likes sandy desert soils best but is happy in my clay soil garden as well. This would be a good candidate for rock gardens or xeriscaping. It usually likes a spot with at least four hours of direct sun but in my garden it performs well in part shade.

By mid-summer it will be quite large and sprawling. Trim it to a reasonable size to prevent it from dominating you garden bed. Because Copper Canyon daisy is a desert plant, it will die to the ground in areas with hard freezes. In winter after the blooms fade prune again to about a foot high. Propagate in spring by softwood cuttings or watch for new plants that have sprung from seed.