Asteraceae, the daisy family, is one of the largest plant families in the world, with more than 20,000 species.
Discover eight essential daisy flowers to grow.
Many popular garden plants are part of the Asteraceae family, including echinaceas, rudbeckias, asters (Michaelmas daisies) and dahlias. Some, such as lettuce and artichoke, are edible and others, such as the common daisy, dandelions and groundsel, are considered weeds.
The family was previously known as Compositae as many tiny flowers (florets) form the central 'head', called the capitulae. The central head is surrounded by bracts (leaf like structures that look like petals).
Asteraceae thrive in a range of conditions, but many hail from dry regions of the world. Many are very attractive to wildlife - the nectar-rich flower heads attract pollinating insects, while birds enjoy the seeds.
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There is a member of the Asteraceae family to suit every garden. Here are some of the key plants in the family.
Michaelmas daisies (symphyotrichum) bring vibrant shades of blue, pink or white to the middle of the border in late summer and autumn and are easy to grow. They are an important source of nectar and pollen for late-flying insects. Discover 12 of the best Michaelmas daisies to grow and watch our video guide to planting Michaelmas daisies.
Echinaceas suit all types of garden but they are a must in prairie-style planting schemes. They're easy enough to grow - give them a south- or west-facing spot in rich, well-drained soil for blooms that should last from mid-summer to mid-autumn. Pollinators and birds love the pollen, nectar and seedheads that the flowers provide. Discover 12 of the best echinaceas to grow.
Sunflowers can reach an impressive 2m in height. They're easy to grow, especially with kids, and they're great for wildlife, too - bees love the flowers and birds adore the seeds. Find out how to grow sunflowers from seed and discover some unusual sunflowers to grow.
Heleniums are an autumn stalwart, with velvety brown or golden door-knob centres amid dropping bracts in marmalade shades. They look great planted in a hot planting scheme of orange, yellow and red and combine very well with ornamental grasses. Find out how to plant heleniums in our video guide.
The tall cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) has striking silvery, thistle-like foliage and adds a majestic touch to the border. The buds finally open into large purple thistle flowers which attract masses of bees. Grow in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun and leave in situ over winter for some dramatic structure; finches will be attracted to the seedheads.
Chrysanthemums flower late in the autumn, when most other flowers are past their best, in a very wide range of colours. They're free flowering, make excellent cut flowers and are easy to grow from cuttings – just follow the same procedure as for dahlias. Read our chrysanthemum Grow Guide and watch our video guide to planting chrysanthemums.
The flowers of dahlias vary greatly, from pompons and balls to spiky, cactus shapes. Flowering from midsummer until the first frosts, they make excellent cut flowers. Single dahlias are the most attractive to pollinators. Discover 10 single dahlias to grow and read our dahlia Grow Guide.
Marigolds (Calendula and tagetes) are versatile plants that look good in a hot border, are good for cutting and also make good companion plants. These annuals are easy to grow from seed - save the seeds from one year to the next.
Artemisia (wormwood) is not a typical member of the Asteraceae family as it is grown for its aromatic foliage. It is topped with small, yellow-brown daisy like flowers in late summer. Grow in a hot, sunny border, in well-drained soil. Wormwood is the source of the oil used in the liqueur absinthe.
Lettuce (Latuca sativa) is of course grown for its edible leaves but if allowed to bolt, you will see its yellow, dandelion-like flowers. There are lots of varieties to try - read about everything you need to know about growing your own lettuce in our lettuce Grow Guide.