Melampodium or Butter Daisy

Barbara H. Smith, HGIC Horticulture Extension Agent, Clemson University, 01/18

HGIC 1195

Melampodium or Butter Daisy (Melampodium divaricatum; synonym M. paludosum) is a reliable, low maintenance summer annual. This member of the aster family originated in the tropical regions of Central and South America. The prolific daisy-like yellow flowers bloom from May until frost and contrast well with the bright green foliage. The leaves are opposite, slightly fuzzy, and have smooth, wavy, or slightly toothed margins.

It is one of the easiest annuals to grow in well-drained soils and full sun. Once established, melampodium is drought tolerant and only requires watering if overly dry.

Melampodium or Butter Daisy (Melampodium divaricatum) is a low maintenance, reliable summer annual that blooms from May to frost.
Melampodium or Butter Daisy (Melampodium divaricatum) is a low maintenance, reliable summer annual that blooms from May to frost.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2017 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Height/Spread

Melampodium cultivars will grow from 10 to 24 inches tall and spread 10 to 15 inches wide.

Ornamental Features

The dainty flower petals range in color from lemon yellow to a golden-orange with dark orange-yellow centers. As the flowers are self-cleaning, no deadheading is required to remove spent blooms. The plants are self-branching, so no pinching is necessary. As the flowers fade, each stem branches to produce additional flowers.

The seeds are achenes, which are simple dry fruit that are similar to sunflower seeds and those of other members of the aster family. An interesting circular seed cluster is formed after the flower petals have fallen. For collection, allow the seeds to turn brown and dry on the plant, then remove and spread them out to dry. Separate the seeds from the flower heads and store in a cool, dry place.

The seeds form an interesting circular seed cluster and may be gathered when the flower petals begin to drop.
The seeds form an interesting circular seed cluster and may be gathered when the flower petals begin to drop.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2017 HGIC, Clemson Extension

How to Grow

Seeds may be sown directly into the landscape after the danger of the last frost has passed. The soil temperatures should be 68 to 86° F, and the bed kept moist, but not wet, until germination. Seedlings will appear in one to two weeks. Depending on the cultivar, thin the seedlings to a spacing of 10 to 15 inches apart. The flowers will bloom 55 to 60 days after sowing. Seeds may also be started indoors 7 to 10 weeks prior to transplanting outdoors. Transplants can also be purchased from a nursery in order to establish a planting more quickly. Melampodium produces many viable seeds and will easily self-sow in the landscape.

Landscape Use

Melampodium is deer resistant; therefore, it is an excellent choice as a summer bedding plant where deer are a problem. The flowers attract butterflies, bees, and other pollinating insects. The seeds provide a food source for small songbirds, such as goldfinches. Landscape use for this versatile annual is in borders, masses, cutting gardens, and containers. It contrasts well when planted in the landscape with many other summer annuals. The smaller varieties have a more compact growth habit and are excellent additions to annual container combinations.

Melampodium contrasts well with other summer annuals, such as sun coleus.
Melampodium contrasts well with other summer annuals, such as sun coleus.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2017 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Problems

Overall, melampodium is a tough annual. There are no serious insect or disease problems. It is susceptible to powdery mildew in hot, humid climates; therefore, it is important to space the plants properly to allow better air circulation to help prevent infection.

Powdery mildew may become a problem during hot, humid summers. It is important to space the plants to allow for proper air circulation.
Powdery mildew may become a problem during hot, humid summers. It is important to space the plants to allow for proper air circulation.
Barbara H. Smith, ©2017 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Cultivars

  • 'Derby' has golden yellow flowers and matures at 12 inches.
  • 'Jackpot Gold' gets 12 inches tall. The golden-orange flowers are two inches in diameter.
  • 'Lemon Delight' flowers are a beautiful lemon yellow. It will get 12 to 24 inches tall.
  • 'Medallion' is the tallest melampodium cultivar at 24-36 inches tall. The flowers are a golden yellow.
  • 'Million Gold' has bright yellow flowers and is a compact grower at 10 inches in height.
  • 'Showstar'™ is another tall grower that gets 14-24 inches tall with golden yellow flowers.

Page maintained by: Home & Garden Information Center


This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement of brand names or registered trademarks by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied, nor is any discrimination intended by the exclusion of products or manufacturers not named. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.