Because of the serious drought conditions that led to emergency water restrictions in our city, this year, with little doubt, has been tough on our garden. During that time, as I often looked at the plants with much sympathy, few things could have surprised me more than to find that the struggling Montauk Daisy, despite all, put forth buds that have now opened into lovely, cheerful flowers. Though its flowering is not as prolific as before, I am amazed at the resilience of this fall-blooming perennial – especially considering the fact that watering this plant was not my priority even when we were allowed to use a watering can – and therefore can’t seem to praise it enough.
A member of the chrysanthemum family with a mouthful of a name, Nipponanthemum nipponicum, this semi-shrubby perennial has spreading branches with toothed, somewhat-fleshy leaves that tend to pack toward the top, giving the plant a vague resemblance to a sedum. In fact, it is foliage that first drew my attention when I was shopping at our local farmers market during one summer. In fall, the plants bear white daisy-like flowers that look similar to those of the summer -blooming Shasta daisy, their simplicity enhanced by green centers that give them a delicate look as cut flowers.
The Montauk Daisy is a drought-tolerant and low-maintenance plant and does deserve a place in the garden; being a fall-bloomer, the plant can be grown amid bulbs or annuals to fill out the empty spaces the summer performers leave and, at the same time, provide color in fall. Plants, in general, are well behaved and stay contained, but for best results it is necessary to prune them in spring. Not only does pruning make the plants bushier, but more vigorous, too.
Like other members of the mum family, the Montauk Daisy needs direct sun, good drainage and ample moisture. Ours did get the first two elements, sunshine and good drainage, but it also toughed-out the hot, dry conditions and managed to stay alive and bloom, surpassing my expectations indeed.