69 Melampodium divaricatumCommon Names: butter daisy, Melampodium paludosum (syn.) Family: Asteraceae (aster/daisy Family)
The melampodium is one of the most prolific of summer annuals, in more ways than one. First, it stays covered with small yellow, daisy-like flowers, about an inch in diameter, from an early age. Second, these flowers make seed like the tribes of man and cover the earth, seedlings coming up constantly all during the growing season, and even from one season to the next. Foliage is bright, not dark green; and the yellow, many-petaled flowers have a darker bronzy-orange center. They need good sun to bloom well, and must stay watered, though they are not fussy. Interestingly, they do not seem particularly attractive to butterflies. Nonetheless, for the profusion of color, they're worth including in a butterfly garden along with other annuals and perennials that are.
Most of the Melampodium species, including Melampodium divaricatum, come from the new world tropics in regions that include the Caribbean and from South America, through Central America to the southwestern United States.
CultureLikes average, well drained, soil. Once established, plants are quite drought and heat tolerant. Several cultivars of melampodium have been developed, mostly to achieve a more compact size. The generic melampodium gets so large the plant falls over. When planted in a mass this doesn't matter so much, but for container planting, dwarfs look neater and can be more useful in combinations. Light: Good sun. Moisture: Average to dry. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 10. Summer annual. Killed by freezing temperatures. Propagation: Melampodium will self-seed from existing plants. No assistance needed!
Plant with other hot-weather annuals such as flossflower (Ageratum houstonianum), gomphrena (Gomphrena globosa) and celosia (Celosia argentea). Use them to surround summer blooming perennials like gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia hirta) or just make a bed of solid melampodium! Dark red, taller pentas (Pentas lanceolata) surrounded by bright yellow melampodium makes a hot, bright summer combination. We feel that the "butter daisy" is destined to become as popular as marigolds and zinnias in the near future!
Melampodium is an happy little plant that is very generous with its near continuous displays of yellow daisylike flowers. Butter daisy (a happier name) will prolifically reseed each season requiring no assistance from the gardener! It is a rugged plant that can stand up to summer's heat and retain its fine flowers and fresh appearance.
Steve Christman 10/17/02, 11/11/03