Berlandiera lyrata


HERE AT A GARDEN FOR THE HOUSE, certain plants withhold their perfumes until the time is “just right.” Nicotiana, for instance, won’t utter a sweet word until the sun has set, while lavender, scented-leaved geraniums, and certain roses require the midday blaze to freely release their essential oils. Morning, however, is when the unusual “Chocolate Flower” makes itself known:

From dawn until noon this Berlandiera lyrata emits the distinct air of cocoa-powder; this I cherish while sipping coffee in the Serpentine Garden, where the plant grows. The scent recalls dark, unadulterated baker’s chocolate.

Distinctive too is lyrata’s daisy-like flowers. Sunshine-yellow petals, one inch in diameter, surround a green eye that is dotted with copper-colored stamens. It is the stamens that contain the scent. Undersides of petals are brushed with red, giving blossoms a decidedly Mexican appearance.

Berlandiera is easy enough to grow. In January, winter-sow seeds in a milk-jug, or direct-sow in the garden anytime during July or August. This South-American tourist thrives in my Northeastern, zone 5-B garden in full sun and rather poor, dry soil. Only during times of prolonged drought does it demand a deep soaking. Remove faded flowers to discourage reseeding.

If you are a weekend gardener, or if you long for fuss-free plants, the chocolate flower is probably for you. Its two-foot frame looks well against a tall background of Buddleja or Witch Hazel — two other hardies which require virtually no care.

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Related Posts:
Nicotiana for Evening Perfume
Welcome to My Herb Garden
Lavender-Iced Cupcakes
From Parking Lot to Rose Garden

Comments

  1. I think I need to find this beauty!

  2. Katreader – the flowers are truly wonderful. I floated one in a little sherry glass this morning, and guess what? It's just as fragrant indoors!

  3. My parents, who live in Dallas, have chocolate flowers all around their porch. They are beautiful plants, and the smell is exactly like unsweetened cocoa! I always assumed they wouldn't grow in the Northeast, but if you have them, my assumption was wrong!

  4. Kevin, did you winter sow this one?

  5. Phoebe – That is another great attribute of Berlandiera: it can be grown almost anywhere, even in zone 4.

    Eric – Yes, I winter-sowed Berlandiera last January or February. Every seed germinated without a hitch!

  6. One of the prettiest flowers in my garden. It reseeds and gets better with every year.

  7. where couldi i find this plant

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