From late summer until the first hard frost of fall, the cheerful flowers of the Montauk daisy add a splash of bright white beauty to landscapes.
In addition to the name Montauk, Nipponanthemum nipponicum is also commonly called the Nippon daisy. Although they're related to Shasta daisies, Montauk daisies bloom later. In late summer, as Shastas begin to fade, Montauks start blooming—and keep blooming—until the first hard frosts of fall.
A drought-tolerant herbaceous perennial, Montauks are hardy in USDA Zones 5-9. They are members of the Chrysanthemum family and, like mums, grow in clumps.
Montauks add height and cheer to autumn gardens, their large, bright-white flowers with yellow-green centers reaching heights of up to three feet and measuring up to three inches across. If they like their location, Montauks spread readily.
Because their flower stems are long and sturdy, Montauk daisies are a popular choice for cutting gardens and floral arrangements.
Growing Montauk Daisies
Caring for Montauk Daisies
Montauk daisies are extremely hardy, no-fuss plants. During the growing season, they require little care beyond deadheading. Although not a necessity, deadheading will encourage Montauks to produce more flowers for a longer period of time.
Because Montauks are drought tolerant, they need little, if any, additional water beyond normal rainfall—except in times of extreme drought or if they're grown in containers.
Mulching Montauk daisies with organic matter increases the soil's drainage capabilities and is a good idea. In general, however, fertilizing Montauks can actually be detrimental to them, causing them to yellow, wilt and split.
In most climates, Montauk daisies prefer full sun; however, if grown in a particularly warm zone, they will perform best if provided with some shade on the hottest days.
Montauk daisies tolerate various types of soil, so long as the drainage is good. They grow as well in sandy soil as they do in loamy flowerbeds. In fact, Nipponanthemum nipponicum derives one of its two common names from the Montauk Lighthouse area of Long Island, New York, where it has naturalized, growing freely throughout the coastal region.
Planting & Propagating
When planting Montauk daisies, prepare the soil by incorporating organic matter into it, especially if the soil is clay. Montauks don't like soggy soil, preferring a growing medium that drains well, and organic matter, such as compost and leaf mold, increases soil drainage.
As you incorporate the organic matter, add water as well, moistening the soil.
Next, dig a hole that's about three times the size of the Montauk's root ball and position the crown or individual clump in the center of the hole. Plant the clump so that the bottom of the crown is even with the soil line, and then water well.
Montauks are very easy to propagate. In fact, plants can be started simply by sticking stems cut to a node into prepared soil. They are also easy to propagate by division.
Montauk Daisy Seeds
Montauks are also relatively easy to grow from seed-- and much less expensive than nursery pot plants.
Growing Montauks in Containers
If growing Montauk daisies as a thriller or spiller in a fall container garden, be sure to match them with plants that have the same growing requirements: full sun and good drainage. Water only when the surface of the soil is dry. Montauks don't like wet feet!
The thick stems and leaves of the Montauk daisy are impervious to light frosts, and it takes a hard frost to make this hardy herbaceous perennial die back to the ground.
Once Montauks do die back, it takes only minutes to prepare them for winter. First, clear away any dead flowers, leaves and stems from the crowns. Those who live in warm climates with extremely mild winters may stop there; however, if lots of freezing and thawing is expected, cover the crowns with a two to three-inch layer of composted organic matter to protect them. If wood borers are not a problem where you live, a one to two-inch application of shredded wood will also protect the crowns from temperature extremes.
For Montauk daisies that grow bushy and upright, prune all of their stems back once after they emerge in spring.
Dividing Montauk Daisies
Montauks originated in China and were initially used to breed Shasta daisies. Their botanical name was formerly Chrysanthemum nipponicum & Leucanthemum nipponicum.
Like Shasta daisies, the center crowns of Montauk daisies tend to die out as the clumps spread. To avoid this, Montauks should be divided every three to four years, preferably in the spring.
To make the division process easier, water the daisies a few hours beforehand, or even the night before.
Loosen the ground around the clump with a pitchfork and gently ease the crowns out of the ground. (If dividing the daisies in late fall or early winter, cut back the stems first.)
Finally, separate the crowns, pulling the roots apart by hand. Discard each individual clump or crown that looks old or withered, retaining the rest for transplant.
© 2012 Jill Spencer