In the Spotlight
Written by Tolly Beck
Tolly Beck is the horticulturist at Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Westchester County. She was formerly a horticulture educator for New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland, NY.
We are enjoying a warm, extended fall this year. Why not take advantage of the beautiful weather and plant a showy, late fall blooming perennial? An excellent choice would be the Montauk Daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum). This outstanding perennial is native to Japan but acquired its common name because it became naturalized around the Montauk lighthouse on Long Island. It is hardy in zones 5- 9.
The Montauk Daisy grows to a shrub-like size at least 3’ high by 3’ wide. It produces lovely, white, 2-3” daisies from early fall well into November. The flowers attract butterflies which is an additional plus in autumn when perennial flowers often have finished for the year. The flowers also make a nice addition to fall flower arrangements. Montauk Daisies are deer resistant so flowers are abundant.
As its’ common name implies, the Montauk Daisy prefers full sun and a well-drained soil. The glossy, thick leaves of this perennial indicates that it is drought tolerant. That is especially important this year since we have had little rain from late summer into the fall. All drought tolerant plants (or xeriscape plants) need to be watered well the first year that they are planted to allow their root systems to become established. By the second season, these plants can usually survive periods of drought and do not need supplemental watering.
Montauk Daisies look wonderful when planted with hydrangeas or as a specimen plant in the perennial border. When you are visiting Lasdon Park, you can see a large Montauk Daisy planted in the Ilse Biederman memorial garden located in the Magnolia Grove. We have had yellow swallowtail butterflies visiting the Montauk Daisy flowers in late October. They are such a nice late season reminder of summer.