Montauk or Nippon Daisies
Montauk or Nippon Daisies
On Cape Cod we love our Montauk daisies. In the rest of the country this perennial is more commonly called Nippon daisy, from its botanical name: Nipponanthemum nipponicum. Since this plant thrives on the eastern tip of Long Island it has also come to be called Montauk daisy. No matter what you call it, we love the fresh, classic look of the daisy flowers and the fact that it is one of the very last perennials to come into bloom.
Unfortunately, however, many who grow this perennial get frustrated when the plant doesn’t stand up straight and full. Here are some tips for keeping your Montauk daisy as upright and round as the plant pictured above:
- Be sure to grow this plant in full sun. You need at least six hours of direct sunlight including the noon hour. Plants grown in part shade will stretch toward the light.
- Keep this perennial on a lean diet. Fertilizer will make the plant weaker and more prone to flopping. Ditto too much water. This is not the plant to grow along with roses or hydrangeas that like higher levels of fertility or water! Montauk daisies are perfect to grow with other drought tolerant plants such as native grasses, butterfly weed and asters.
- Treat this perennial like a shrub. If you cut it to the ground every year the stems will be fresh and new but weak. If you trim the top growth only in the spring, leaving the canes to get stronger every year, the plant will be more sturdy. Remove any stems that are horizontal or on the ground, but leave those that are upright. Prune off about a third of the height every spring.
- Don’t try to keep these plants small. A mature Montauk daisy grows about 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Put it in the right spot and both you and the plant will be happy!
- If you want to make the growth thicker you can trim or shear the top 4 inches of growth off in May. Do not do this later than the end of May, however, or you’ll delay flowering for a couple of weeks in the fall. If you’ve fertilized and watered well, this shearing will make the top parts of the plants even heavier and more floppy, so take the first tips seriously – shearing alone won’t prevent this plant from flopping.
- Nippon/Montauk daisies naturally shed the lower leaves on their stems. They turn yellow and then black toward the end of the summer. There is nothing wrong with the plant and there is nothing you can do to prevent this…it’s just what this perennial does. If you look closely at the photo above you’ll see that the leaves on this plant are still yellowing inside, even as the plant is in bloom. Fortunately the cheerful daisies distract us from the fading foliage.
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