Plant This: Copper canyon daisy

Copper canyon daisy, gopher plant, and ‘Color Guard’ yucca

Like warm sunshine on a chilly autumn day, copper canyon daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) brightens the garden in late fall, just before the first frost nips central Texas. In full sun the plant becomes a 4 to 6 foot mound of golden daisies, its feathery foliage nearly hidden by the profusion of flowers. In part sun, like mine, it still flowers well but with less of a Midas touch.

Copper canyon daisy also boasts extremely good deer resistance thanks to its fragrant—some say stinky, but not me—leaves, which will perfume you with their distinctive licorice-like smell after the most casual passing brush of the hand or leg.

Native to Mexico and Arizona, copper canyon daisy is a tough, drought-tolerant performer (although it did suffer all over town during the terrible drought of 2011). The first hard freeze will be the end of the show. I’ll leave the frost-burned foliage standing until mid-February, my cut-back date for most flowering perennials.

Note: My Plant This posts are written primarily for gardeners in central Texas. The plants I recommend are ones I’ve grown myself and have direct experience with. I wish I could provide more information about how these plants might perform in other parts of the country, but gardening knowledge is local. Consider checking your local online gardening forums to see if a particular plant might work in your region.

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

4 Responses

  1. James says:

    We love our copper canyon daisy. We’re planning on doing a major re-do of our back yard this winter, and we’ll definitely give him more room — I love the picture of yours by the mailbox — really gives a good sense of scale. Your blog is so inspiring — thanks for all the hard work! Looking forward to more!!

    Thanks for the uplifting comment, James. I’m delighted that you find inspiration here. There is so much to share, and I love doing it. —Pam

  2. jenny says:

    It is one of my favorite flowers and you have a wonderful show. This last two years have left my plants very underwhelming. They do need some water to really make them shine and all they get in my front is what nature provides Maybe next year. I miss them.

    Yes, they do need water if none comes from the sky. Last year mine was very sad indeed, even with irrigation. But this year it more than made up for last year’s sulkiness. I hope you find a more “gardened” spot for one, Jenny. —Pam

  3. Tammy says:

    Love this plant. Quite lovely, however I am particular to perennials. I love your blog and have come back to it often for ideas or advice. I live just North of Austin so what applies to your garden applies to mine. :)

    I’m a big perennial fan as well, Tammy, and this is a showy one for fall. Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you’re here! —Pam

  4. rjhyden says:

    I picked up some copper canyon late this fall, on sale, a leggy, sprawling specimen in need of a cut back. Put it in and am letting it bloom as it can. Will cut it back in late winter and look forward to a display like this next year. Thanks for featuring it.

    My pleasure, Randy. —Pam