Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) is a herbaceous perennial native to Central Texas and found throughout New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado. Part of the Aster family, they are characterized by their typical daisy-like white flowers with yellow centers. They will grow to a size of around 12″ tall and 24″ wide.
This Texan native plant is ideal for planting in dry, desert-like and plains-like areas where the amount and frequency of water is restricted. Their long flowering time, hardiness, and drought tolerant nature makes them a popular choice for areas where other plants fail to grow, and they make a pretty and eye-catching addition to rock gardens.
How to Grow Blackfoot Daisy
Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) flowers are very easy to grow. The soil needs no special preparation, and they don’t even need regular watering. This is truly a plant where you need to do little more than throw the seeds on the ground (preferably in full sun) and brush gently to cover them, then leave them be!
Because they tolerate heat, cold, and irregular watering, they are an excellent choice for novice or infrequent gardeners. They also make an ideal ground cover and are a great choice for nature lovers, thanks to their flowers attracting wild birds, butterflies, and bees. Oh, and they’re also relatively deer and rabbit resistant.
Read on for more detailed information and tips:
What conditions do you need to grow Blackfoot Daisy?
A limey or sandy soil is the optimal habitat for Blackfoot Daisy. It does not like the richness enjoyed by many other plants or very nutrient or clay-heavy soils. In fact, over-fertilizing the soil may shorten its flowering season. It prefers full sun, so avoid shady areas.
What makes Blackfoot Daisy such a great choice for so many gardens is that while it prefers hot, dry, and arid conditions, it will also tolerate cold well – even light to medium frosts. It can survive the occasional drought and will do well in poor quality, nutrient-deficient soils.
When should you plant Blackfoot Daisy?
Plant from seed directly into the garden in the late Fall. If you are planning to grow it in a container, plant seeds in the Winter under a cold frame or unheated greenhouse. It does not need to be started indoors or in the warmth of a heated greenhouse.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Growing Blackfoot Daisies
Growing Blackfoot Daisies is simple:
- Preparation – Find a sunny spot, preferably in full sun (rock gardens work well, although a garden bed is fine). You should not need to mulch or fertilize before planting. If the soil is very rich, mix gravel mulch and sand through to ensure there is adequate drainage.
- Planting – Sprinkle the seeds and cover them with soil – that’s it! You can grow from cuttings, but it’s easier from seed.
- Care – Don’t overwater. Water once or twice weekly at most, even when hot. Soak the surrounding ground, rather than the plants or leaves themselves.
Get the most out of your plant with these tips:
- Blackfoot Daisies make an excellent ground cover, making them a great choice for mass planting. Thanks to their long season (early Spring – through late Fall/Early Winter), they will continue to keep the area looking pretty for a long time after most of your plants have ended.
- Cut back by 50% in late Fall to ensure that they look their best the following year.
- If you have a wall or ledge that they can tumble down, they can be made into a pretty and attractive feature in your garden, especially once their daisy-like flowers come out.
- Their deep taproot will develop root rot if there is a lot of below-surface water. This same taproot makes replanting or relocating it difficult once it is established.
- Blackfoot Daisy grown in containers will need more water than those planted in the garden. However, take care not to overwater, and cease watering at all during the Winter.
- They will self-seed, so take care to deadhead your plants at the end of Fall, unless you wish to have more plants in the surrounding area the following year. Deadhead your plants in early Winter and collect the dry seeds for replanting by gently shaking the flowers onto a piece of paper. Dry well and store until needed.
- They make an excellent companion plant for cacti or succulents, blanket flower, or feather reed grass.
Blackfoot Daisy Uses
Blackfoot Daisy is a perfect border plant, and is suitable for mass planting. They are also relatively deer and rabbit resistant, being too tough and woody for them to enjoy. They are also useful for attracting wildlife, such as bees and butterflies to the garden. Their flowers also look great!