What's So Special About The Montauk Daisy?
The Montauk daisy, also known as Nippon daisy, is special in a number of ways. It's large, showy, easy to grow, and low maintenance plant. Deer and rabbits, which like so many of the plants you have in your garden, don't seem to care much for the Montauk Daisy. And as a bonus, it attracts butterflies.
What's In A Name? - The Latin or scientific name, which sometimes gives us a clue as to a plant's origin, or its discovery, gives a pretty good clue as to the origin of the Montauk daisy. Nipponanthemum nipponicum suggests that the daisy comes from Japan, which is true. The Latin name also would appear to place it in the chrysanthemum family; in fact until recently the Latin name for this plant was Chrysanthemum nipponicum. Whether we're talking about a daisy or a chrysanthemum is secondary. The Montauk daisy is a beautiful plant no matter how you may wish to classify it.
Normally Propagated From Cuttings - The Montauk daisy can be planted from seed but is usually planted from cuttings. Seeds can be somewhat hard to come by, at least in some areas, perhaps due to the fact that many gardeners are not yet familiar with the plant, so the demand is not all that high at this time. The plant appears to be better known on the east coast. Elsewhere we are more familiar with the Shasta daisy, a close relative. The foliage on both plants is somewhat similar, as are the blossoms, but the Montauk daisy has enough unique characteristics to make it stand out in the crowd.
It is an easy plant to propagate from cuttings. You don't have to spend hours nursing the cuttings along in the hopes that one or two of them might eventually show a hint of some new roots. Stick a dozen in pots filled with a mixture of sand, compost, a dash of rooting hormone, and if available, a little chicken or cow manure. Find a shady part of the garden, not deep shade, but not direct sun either, and before you know it you should have well-rooted plants, probably 12 of them.
Cut It Back In The Spring For Best Results - One of the secrets in growing these daisies is the spring cutting. A perennial, the Montauk daisy will overwinter and begin to green up in the early spring. For many, if not most plants, we simply leave them alone throughout the growing system. You can do that with this daisy, but if you want some truly superb results, it's a good practice to cut the plant back to the ground in mid-Spring, around June in most areas. You'll note plenty of new buds at the base of the plant. Do this, and you'll get more than a pretty little clump of flowers. What you'll get is a shrub, perhaps three feet tall or taller, and just as wide, with fat stalks and beautiful late-blooming flowers. Make the spring pruning an annual chore, and you'll have a nice bushy plant year after year. If you want several bushes, simply divide the one you have, after it's reached a decent size. Dividing an established plant is simply another easy method of propagation.
The Montauk daisy is a low maintenance plant, especially when planted in direct sun and well-drained soil. You can place it in a bulb garden, as it will not interfere with tulips, daffodils, crocus and the like. Once these plants have died out, the daisy will begin to fill in the empty space. You can still plant summer blooming flowers in the area, just give the daisy a little room to grow. After the first year or two you'll know how much room is required, but again, the width of a well-developed plant will be on the order of 3 feet.
Autumn Enjoyment - Once your spring flowers have come and gone, and your summer flowers have come and gone, it's the Montauk daisy's turn. You can usually expect blooming in the fall, anytime from early September into late October, depending on where you live. Expect a large number of 2 to 3 inch very white flowers, with yellow centers; set off nicely in a background of deep green, glossy leaves. The late blooming period is one thing that sets this plant apart from the Shasta daisy, which usually blooms in early to mid summer, and though attractive, is an invasive pest in some areas. The Nippon daisy, though easy to grow, is a little better behaved. It is certainly not a pest.