Montauk Daisy

Montauk's blossoms brighten the fall garden in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Montauk’s blossoms brighten the fall garden (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Daisy, daisy, give me your answer do, I’m half crazy all for the love of you.  Surely, the cheerful faces of nipponanthemum nipponicum, otherwise known as Montauk or Nippon Daisy, will greet you in early October and inspire you to sing, too!  When other garden companions have quietly retired for the season, up pops the gay nipponicum flowers to remind you that the garden displays are not quite over yet.  Lucky us!

The cheery faces of Montauk Daisy in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The cheery faces of Montauk Daisy (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

In addition to its pretty face, which is such a welcome addition to the autumn garden, the Montauk Daisy also has an attractive foliage and shrub like form during the months prior to blooming.  The leaves are an unusual oval shape and deep, glossy green.  If pruned in spring, it forms a nice mounding shape that is complementary with stachys planted at the base or next to a similar leaf form, Daphne ‘Carol Mackie’.  The Nippon Daisy is a great companion to early spring bulbs as well; I under plant it with multiple hyacinth bulbs and nippon graciously covers the browning foliage as it grows.

**For a great list of other fall flowering plants read Late Bloomers

Montauk Daisies in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Montauk Daisies along border (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Thanks to the obnoxious odor of the leaves and stems, this plant is repulsive to most critters and when you prune it (ugghh) you’ll see what I mean.  Pruning is a must to prevent the splaying and flopping that will occur without doing so.  I recommend cutting back to about 6″ in late spring (June) and possibly another random pinch in July to help the plant bulk up and remain bushy if growth seems too aggressive.  The key is trying to prevent the legginess that Montauk Daisy has a tendency to have, while promoting a thicker, healthy foliage through the summer. (A friend of mine used to mow them down accidentally, and found out they flourished from this treatment.  Another friend recommended frequent pinching back until mid July, and dividing every 3 years).  I plant Nippon Daisy in sunny, well drained areas (zones 5 – 9) and they come back faithfully year after year.

** You may also enjoy selections from The Power of Yellow and Got Pink **

Montauk Daisy’s flowers are similar to the shasta daisy, with a 3″ diameter of bold white petals surrounding a golden center.  I’ve read that they make an attractive cut flower, but I find the musky smell too unpleasant to bring inside.  Instead, I’m more than happy to let Miss Montauk shed her light on the slumbering garden companions for a final encore before winter blows in.


  1. For some reason I have no luck getting Montauk daisy to bloom. I pinch them back and get a nice mound of foliage. They seem to get enough sun-not full sun but certainly not shade. This year I got two flowers. The current spot where I have them planted is very dry. Could that be the problem?

    • Hi Sue: Montauk daisies thrive in areas of Long Island that are extremely dry with poor soil. Typically, an established plant should be quite tolerant of drought. I would suspect your daisy is not getting enough sun, or perhaps the sun it is getting (like earlier morning) isn’t potent enough. Generally, full sun is considered to be at least 6 hours of exposure, of that the Montauk should be in later morning and all afternoon to receive enough vitamin D. Try relocating it to a sunnier location (I have transplanted them easily, they’re not fussy)and see what happens next year. Continue with the pinching, but stop mid July. Thanks for reading and best of luck with your Nippon~Kathy

  2. Beth Erskine says

    Hi Kathy,
    We are in a new home in coastal NC. As part of our landscaping plan, Montauk daisies were planted Sept. 2012. As I write this email in Aug. 2013, there is no evidence of budding. The plants have been healthy, but now the under leaves are starting to brown and drop. Should I still expect blooms this year? They have not been pruned at all as I wasn’t sure what to do about that until recently. Thanks for any help.

    • Hi Beth: I went out to check my Montauks and no sign of buds yet. They don’t usually bloom until late September-early October here in zone 5 Connecticut, so I’m thinking they probably bloom mid-September in your warmer climate. At this point, I don’t think you should prune them-the latest I usually do it is mid-July. However, next spring consider pruning them to about 6″ from the ground, as this promotes lush growth from the base. Some of the under leaves falling does not concern me, as long as the top portion of the stem has healthy foliage. You will likely see buds forming by the end of the month, and pruning next year should help prevent the browning lower foliage. Good luck and thanks for writing!

  3. I’ve had Montauk Daisies for at least 15 years. They have bloomed and flourished. This year I noticed it hardly has any leaves and almost looks dead. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
    What could have happened to them ?

    • Two things come to mind; one is simply old age and the other is burrowing critters. Perennials are long-lived, but many don’t go far past the teen mark. About 15 years ago, I planted two Montauk daisies at the same time, in different locations. One has long since passed away, while the other is doing wonderfully (I replaced the dead one). Who knows why? I had a gorgeous mass of dictamnus albus (gas plant) that did the same thing you’re describing. When I poked around, I found almost the entire root system was decimated. Whatever the reason, if it looks beyond hope give it a proper burial in the compost heap and go find yourself another one! Or try something different in that spot. Thanks for writing!

  4. Nuala Cotter says

    Hi, Kathy,
    I just discovered your site thanks to our Montauk daisies which have finally bloomed up here in Worcester, MA…even colder and darker than CT, I think! So…once there’s a frost, can I cut them down or should I just leave them as they are until March or April for that first pruning? Thanks a million for your help. NC

    • Hi Nuala! I think your climate is comparable to mine, but I know you folks have gotten hit with a lot more snow than we have. I wouldn’t prune the Montauk right after frost, instead wait until all the leaves have dropped and the stems have browned. The size is really what determines if or how much I prune; if the stems are really long and flopping, I would prune it back to about a foot. If the stems are erect and compact, I would leave it until early spring. You want to prevent stems from breaking off and damaging the plant from heavy winter snows. That said, some stems naturally die back and new ones emerge with the spring growth. Hope that helps!

  5. joanne olivier says

    I accidentally cut my Montauk daisies back today (November 21). I didn’t cut it down entirely to the ground but everything I’m reading sounds as if I should not have touched them. Should I mound some soil over them? Will they come back next year? I live in Morristown NJ.

    Thanks a lot.

    • Time will tell, Joanne, but I don’t think you’ve done any real harm. I usually wait until my perennials brown out and drop leaves before cutting back, which means I’m pruning through the month of November. In Connecticut, my daisies are browning but haven’t dropped leaves yet. Once they do, I will cut back to about 6 inches. I would not mound soil or mulch as that will only invite underground critters and prevent drainage. Good luck and thanks for writing!

  6. Laura Schoen says

    Hi Kathy,

    I have a few Montauk Daisy plants and I want to cut them back but am unsure when to do that. I live in northern New Hampshire (about 3 hrs south of the Montreal Canada border). Last year I didn’t cut them back until late June, which I think was too long to wait because I got very few flowers. My sister lives in Montauk, NY and she cuts hers back in early June and says they do great, so we figured late June would be ok here in NH. Also, do I cut back to 6″ in spring? If I do that, all the green I have now will be gone and I’ll be left with only the brown stems. Is that ok for this time of year? Thank you for your advice!!

    • Years ago a friend accidentally mowed over his Montauk Daisies and they came back more lush and gorgeous than ever. I’m not saying to get that drastic, but most perennials-Montauk’s included-will benefit from a good pruning. By nature these daisies tend to get very leggy with the brown stalks you’re mentioning and only green at the top. I prune my Montauks down to around 6 to 10 inches in early spring (late March-early April) as this promotes a shrubby growth and eliminates the bare brown stems. You have to be careful about pruning late season, but if they’re getting too tall and floppy by mid-June, I will shear back again by half. Since Montauk daisies don’t bloom until the end of September, a June pruning should not affect the bloom in any way. Montauk daisy wants a lot of sun and good drainage for best flower production. Hope this helps Laura! Thanks for following my blog ~

  7. Will the Montauk Daisy grow in lower Alabama Gulf Shores?

    • Have you seen them growing locally? As I am from Connecticut, I’m not sure exactly what the growing zone is for your area. Alabama ranges from 6B to 8B. Montauk daisy is hardy from zone 5-9 and requires full sun and well drained soil. If these are the conditions in your landscape, it would certainly be worth giving this plant a try. Happy gardening!

    • The grow in Mississippi’s zone 8a, where I am. Mine are starting to bloom now (May 19 ) and have a profusion of plump buds getting ready to bloom.

      • It’s interesting that Montauk daisy blooms so early in Mississippi, I wonder if it will re-bloom later if you prune it? In the colder climates, we love this plant because it’s one of the last to bloom before winter. Thank you for writing, Bill!

        • This is the first year I’ve had Montauk daisies. I planted them in March 2016. Today, June 9, they are still in full bloom, and look ready to continue to bloom for quite a while yet, So I’m wondering if they will just continue to bloom throughout the summer and on into fall. It will be interesting to see.

          • Since you’re in a warmer climate (Mississippi), perhaps the Montauk performs quite differently. Who knew? Keep me in the loop, Bill!

  8. Hi Kathy,
    I’m just starting to plant Montauk Daisies and was wondering what companion plants you would recommend. I live in CT too. I have Autumn Joy and Spirea in this area which gets sun all afternoon. I’m not much for annuals except in pots, and don’t do bulbs either.
    Thank You

    • Hi Susan: If you’re looking for more flowers, I would consider adding dwarf asters, perennial geraniums such as Geranium sanguine and Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’, and heathers, which have lovely fall color. I also enjoy mixing perennials with shrubs and evergreens; dwarf junipers or shrubs with contrasting foliage would add texture and seasonal interest. Good luck with your design and thank you for writing!

  9. Cindy Ferguson says

    I started this plant from a seedling this spring. Grew a lot and I have a lot of buds but the lower leaves have yellowed and had brown spits then fell off leaving a lot of stem exposed. What causes this?

    • Hi Cindy: I recommend cutting back to about 6″ in late spring (June) and possibly another random pinch in July to help the plant bulk up and remain bushy if growth seems too aggressive. The key is trying to prevent the legginess (where lower leaves fall off) that Montauk Daisy has a tendency to have, while promoting a thicker, healthy foliage through the summer. Thanks for writing!

  10. I was told that if you cut a stem from a Montauk Daisey and simply plant it in the ground it will develop roots and thrive. Is this true and if so when should it be done ?

    • Sorry Chuck, I have no experience in rooting cuttings of any kind, but I’ve read that in the spring or summer you can take stem tip cuttings (with 3 nodes), dip in rooting hormone, and plant in moist propagating medium . . . Or you can try sticking a cutting in the ground and see what happens! You never know ~

      • Earline Smith says

        When I cut mine back this spring, I stuck some cuttings in a pot of soil, kept it moist and they all rooted easily! The had just sprouted tiny leaves all up the stem before pruning. Good luck!

        • Thank you for sharing that info, Earline. I have never tried rooting the cuttings, but will certainly give it a try! I always love to hear from my readers ~

  11. I was wondering if you have ever heard of the pink form of the montauk daisy nipponanthemum nipponicum roseum? I have been looking for it since I first hear of it but have been unable to find a source any ideas?

    • Hi Rick, No – I have never heard of a pink form of Nipponanthemum nipponicum (Montauk Daisy), and I checked my American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers and did an extensive Google search as well. The only thing I can think of is possibly a member of the Chrysanthemum family, such as Chrysanthemum ‘Hillside Sheffield Pink’, which blooms in late fall like the Montauk Daisy, and has pale pink daisy-like petals with a yellow center. Good Luck!

  12. Mary Goodwin says

    I did cut my daisies back in the fall should I do it in the spring?

    • Hi Mary, First, it depends on how much you cut them back and how tall they are. If you like your Montauk daisy to be taller, you can prune it to around 12 inches (I prune mine to about 6 inches, as I mention in the article). If you have a lot of growth by mid-June to early July you may need to prune it back again. Because Montauk daisy doesn’t bloom until late September, you’re safe to tidy it up until then. Good luck and thank you for writing ~

  13. I planted the Montauk daisy last Fall. I did not trim back this spring; however, it is May 25 and I have buds that are close to opening. I live in Alabama. Will it bloom this early?

    • It may bloom differently than in my colder climate, Zone 5 Connecticut. You might want to check with a local nursery to see if that is the common bloom time in your area. Pruning may encourage a second bloom? Good luck!

  14. Hello, and thank you for the wonderful information. I have just received about a dozen plants from a woman who just divided her patch. She advised me to cut them down to about six inches so that the plant could focus on rooting instead of blooming. Makes sense to me, however, that would remove all foliage.Will the plants be able to survive with no leaves at all?
    I’m in Indiana.

    • In my Connecticut garden, the Montauk Daisies will be blooming in a few weeks! I always cut mine down to about 6 inches, but not until late winter-to early spring-when they have already dropped all their leaves and have formed buds. If they are very tall, I would say it is safe to cut them back some, but I would leave some foliage and wait to prune until the foliage drops off later in the season. If it is very dry, remember to water them once a week until established. Thank you, Jamaise, for reading my blog ~

  15. I noticed this plant growing in my garden in July. I thought it was some kind of weed then it looked like some kind of shrub and kept growing. As bunch after bunch of leaves unfolded I was certain that it was some kind of false flower. Then this week I was greeted with daisies. What a surprise! I have no idea how it got there and I may transplant it next year but I am enjoying my late September surprise.

    • I love surprises like that, Tim! If you transplant it, I would do so in the early spring and be sure to select a well drained and sunny spot. If you find the growth is tall by late June, you can give it a prune back by half that will not affect the flowers in September. Thank you for sharing, I enjoy hearing from my readers ~

      • Sandra novak says

        I live in Chicago illinois, actually a suburb 20 miles south.
        I too discovered this plant a few years ago, growing against the fence in the back of my yard. I have been watching it all summer loving the shiny leaves, thinking what a nice weed. When I started seeing the bright white buds a while ago, I couldn’t wait to see what they would bloom to look like! They are beautiful, I told my husband it is my happy bush, so pretty and bright as everything else is dying..put a description on the internet and learned the name. Would love to have more of these! Thanks

        • Isn’t it such a lovely surprise to have flowers in October! Like you, I love the architecture and foliage of the Montauk daisy, even when not in bloom. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and share your story, Sandra. I love hearing from my readers!

  16. From all that I have read it seems that Montauk daisies should be cut back both in November and again in late March early April. Am I correct in this?

    • Hi Evelyn, In answer to your 3 comments: The best time to divide any perennials is early spring and fall, so you’re still safe in Zone 5. In the article I recommend cutting the Montauk daisy back about 6 inches in June and again in July if it’s growing too fast. I usually prune down most of my perennials – except those with seeds for the birds – by the end of November. Hope this helps ~

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