Montauk Daisies: How to Grow a Late-Blooming Standout

Cut Them Back for a Great Fall Display

Montauk Daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum).

Michael/Flickr.com

Montauk daisy is a shrubby perennial that forms a mounded clump. It can grow to be as tall as about 3 feet (with a similar spread), but the particular pruning regimen you adopt will impact eventual height. Find out why you'll be far happier keeping the plant shorter with a well-timed trimming during the course of the growing season.

Taxonomy of Montauk Daisies

By using botanical names and establishing a logical plant taxonomy, we try to avoid confusion when referencing plants. Taxonomists know Montauk daisy as Nipponanthemum nipponicum. Unfortunately, in this case, taxonomists required three tries to "get it right," since the plant was formerly listed under the Leucanthemum genus and before that was classified as a Chrysanthemum.

Montauk daisies are classified by botanists as herbaceous perennials. An alternate common name is "Nippon daisy."

Description of Montauk Daisies

Displaying white flowers with yellow centers, the bloom of these perennials conforms to the classic daisy look, as represented in Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum). Initial bloom time will depend on how you handle pruning and can range from mid-summer to late-summer or even to fall.

More importantly, the plant will flower until well into fall. Both its flowers and its leaves can withstand frost. The leaves will eventually yellow after the first frost, but this change in color does not mar their appearance. Freezing temperatures will, however, turn the leaves brown and ruin the flowers.

But the flowers only begin to tell the story. The leaves of this tough perennial are just as important as the blooms. The dark green foliage is shiny to the eye and leathery to the touch.

Planting Zones, Sun and Soil Needs for Montauk Daisies

As you might have guessed from a Latin name such as Nipponanthemum nipponicum, this perennial is indigenous to Japan and China. In North America, grow it in planting zones 5 to 9.

Grow this perennial in full sun. Soil can be just average in fertility, as long as it's very well-drained.

Uses in Landscaping

This perennial is recommended for spacious rock gardens, as medium-sized plants for sunny flower beds, and in xeriscaping. It's showy enough in autumn to serve as a specimen plant for fall. Montauk daisy also makes for a good cut flower.

Wildlife Attracted by Montauk Daisies, Pest Issues

Use Montauk daisy as a plant to attract butterflies. It will also draw bees.

Its record on pest issues is commendable, as well. Montauk daisy is:

Care for Montauk Daisies

Trim this perennial in spring or the first half of summer to keep it from getting leggy and encourage it to remain more compact. You will be glad you did when it enters its blooming season (even though you'll have to wait longer for flowers) because the blooms will then be displayed on an overall more attractive plant. To keep it attractive, remove any dead brown or yellow leaves that may pop up along the lower parts of the stems (a problem that will be worse if you don't cut the plant back).

These brown and yellow leaves are unsightly, but they do not represent a health problem: Their time has simply come. Even removing them is only a partial solution: The stems will look bare. Hide the bare stems by planting an annual of medium height in front that enjoys the same conditions.

What may be of greater concern are the brown spots that will often develop on the otherwise healthy, green leaves. These are caused by the four-lined plant bug (Poecilocapsus lineatus). According to the University of Minnesota (UMN) extension, it's better simply to tolerate these brown spots if the problem does not become overwhelming; more serious cases may call for an insecticide, but UMN notes that "insecticidal soap is a less toxic option."

Deadhead the plants both for aesthetic reasons and to generate maximal flowering.

Divide plants in spring if the clumps become too congested.

Outstanding Features of Montauk Daisies

To begin, some plants are more "tolerant" than others. Montauk daisy is one of those plants. In addition to the fact that it tolerates deer and rabbits, it is:

That's a lot of toleration.

We also value the succulent-like leaves of Montauk daisy, but we downright adore the fact that it's a late-blooming plant. We have more flowers than we know what to do with in spring and summer. But to be able to count, year after year, on pretty fall flowers makes it much easier to achieve continuous sequence of bloom in landscaping. Depending on where you live, Montauk daisy may give you flowers to admire right through November.

The small details about a plant can hold considerable significance, too, details that fly under the radar with casual gardeners but that are noticed by true plant geeks. In the case of Montauk daisy, we like the way the flower buds evolve into blooms:

At first, the buds appear clustered tightly together on the flower stalk, just barely poking out of the foliage. But as the flower stalk pushes further and further up, the buds start to peel off from one another. By the time the flowers are fully open, they all claim their rightful place as separate entities. It's the type of drama you can only appreciate if you pay regular attention to your garden.

Origin of the Common Names

While one common name for the plant acknowledges its Oriental origins ("Nippon"), the primary common name is based on the fact that it has become a naturalized plant on Long Island, New York (U.S.), as mentioned, for example, by Scott Guiser. To be more specific, this flower has apparently become so intimately associated with the town at the Eastern tip of the island, Montauk, that the name of "Montauk daisy" started coming into common usage at some point, and it stuck.

Although "Nippon" is a more descriptive common name in the sense that it tells you where the plant truly comes from, most prefer "Montauk" daisy. The latter should serve as both a warning and an inspiration:

It serves as a warning to provide good drainage. Consider how sandy the soil must be in a place like Montauk, famous for its beaches and lighthouse. That should remind you to furnish this perennial with fast-draining soil.

The thought of Montauk's sandy shore should also serve to inspire you. If you're a seashore lover, creating a beach-themed landscape by erecting a lighthouse ornament and complementing it with plants such as Montauk daisy may be a lot cheaper for you than traveling to Long Island.