I bought a home with several montauk daisy plants last fall. They bloomed in the fall, but they were floppy and fell from the weight. I pruned them low in December. I read that to prevent flopping, I should prune again in May. But there are some buds already on the branches. Should I prune now to prevent flopping in the fall? Or will cutting off the buds prevent flowering? Someone told me that if there are buds on it already, it will flower in the spring.
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Lauren in Kentucky: Montauk daisies (Nipponanthemum nipponicum) are a perennial favorite among many gardeners as well as butterflies. Planted in mass, they provide a lovely show in the fall. They thrive when grown in full sun and nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. Other than pruning they are considered a low-maintenance plant. If not properly pruned they become leggy and flop over in the fall when they are suppose to be in their prime. Like you mentioned, they should be cut back in the early spring to prevent them from flopping over later in the growing season. Go ahead and cut them back approximately one-third to one-half of their size. This will encourage your perennials to become fuller, more compact, and less leggy. It may seem drastic to remove some flower buds but they will certainly produce more and you will have a more attractive plant in the long run. These fall bloomers are best left alone to collect food and nutrients for next year’s flowers so do as you did last year and wait until later in the winter to prune. You can protect them with a thin layer of mulch during the winter months.