The attractive wild shrub with its sun yellow flowers attracts wild bees and butterflies to the garden all summer long.
Profile of ox-eye:
Scientific name: Buphthalmum salicifolium
Plant family: daisy family (Asteraceae)
Other names: –
Sowing time: spring
Planting time: spring
Flowering period: June to September
Location: sunny to partially shady
Soil quality: stony to clayey, calcipholous, low in nutrients, humus rich
These information are for temperate climate!
Use in: flowerbeds, bouquets, planters, borders, flower garden, heather garden, natural garden, rock garden, potted garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 4 (-31 °C / -25 °F)
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of ox-eye
Plant order, origin and occurrence of ox-eye
The ox-eye (Buphthalmum salicifolium) is a wild shrub, which can be found in nature especially in the pre-alpine region. The plant is also found in the other European mountain regions from France to the Balkan Peninsula. It grows on calcareous and rather dry, stony soils up to altitudes of 2,000 meters (6,500 ft). With its yellow, marguerite-like flowers, the wild shrub belongs to the large plant family of daisies (Asteraceae). It contains no significant toxins.
Characteristics of ox-eye
The ox-eye grows as a perennial, herbaceous plant with upright, sparsely branched stems, which are short-haired. It grows to a height of 50 to 60 centimeters when flowering and spreads cushion-like with time. In autumn, after the seeds have ripened, the plant pulls in its above-ground plant parts.
As the botanical species name of the plant (salicifolium = willow leafy) already says, the ox-eye has lanceolate leaves, similar to a willow (Salix). The dull green foliage is about 5 to 10 centimeters (2 to 4 in) long and about 2 centimeters (0.8 in) wide, the edge is smooth or slightly toothed. It sits sessile directly on the stem. The ox-eye can be easily distinguished from the very similar looking arnica by the fact that the leaves of the arnica plant are arranged opposite to each other on the stem, whereas the ox-eye is arranged alternately.
The marguerite-like, golden yellow flowers of the ox-eye grow to a width of about 4 to 6 centimeters (1.6 to 2.4 in). They usually stand individually on the stem ends, more rarely in twos or threes. The outer ligulate flowers are purely female, while the tubular disc florets in the middle are hermaphroditic. The plant blooms from June to September and is a permanent summer flowering plant for the garden bed. Its inflorescences are swarmed around by bees and butterflies, as they provide plenty of nectar and pollen. The flower stems are also well suited as summer cut flowers for colorful bouquets from your own garden.
The ox-eye forms from the pollinated flowers numerous triangular, winged achenes with pappus, which contribute to the spread of the plant.
Ox-eye – cultivation and care
Ox-eye prefers a sunny to slightly shady place in the garden.
The right soil for the ox-eye should rather be low in nutrients, well drained and calcareous – just as the plant is used to from its natural habitat. It does not like waterlogging and acidic soils. Too dense garden soils can be improved with sand and a little garden lime, thus providing the wild shrub with the right substrate.
The ox-eye is best planted in spring, like most other summer-flowering perennials. Place small groups of three to five plants in the bed. Suitable companions are, for example, sage (Salvia officinalis), wild chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum indicum), mare’s tail (Conyza canadensis) or small quaking grass (Briza media).
The plants can cope better with longer periods of drought than with a substrate that is too moist for long periods. Moderate watering is used during prolonged dry periods. It is better to water the plants more frequently than to water them once. The soil should be able to dry out well in the meantime.
Fertilization is not necessary. If the soil is slightly acidic, occasional lime applications can be advantageous. A remarkably lean soil can be enriched with ripe compost during planting. This organic slow-release fertilizer provides the plants with all the necessary nutrients in the first year.
In late autumn the ox-eye is cut back. You should remove withered parts continuously. This can stimulate the plant to flower again.
At a favorable location, the bull’s eye itself ensures its propagation and sows itself independently. By sowing and dividing, the hobby gardener can take propagation into his own hands.
The plants can be divided in spring. For this purpose they are dug completely out of the ground. The root ball is divided with a sharp spade and the new plants can be moved to a new location and cultivated as usual.
Diseases and pests
The plant is robust and therefore less susceptible to plant diseases such as mildew. It is also not afflicted by snails.
No winter protection is necessary for this robust plant. The ox-eye can tolerate temperatures down to -31 °C / -25 °F and can therefore be grown in our latitudes during the cold season without any problems.
Use in the garden
The robust wild shrub is also suitable for smaller gardens, for example for shrub beds of medium height. Of course, it also feels at home in all sunny rockeries and flower meadows with rather dry, calcareous soil. Due to its long flowering period and compact growth, the ox-eye is also suitable for planting in boxes and tubs.