The Chocolate Flower - Information and Photos
Berlandiera Lyrata, or Chocolate Daisy Flower
I was at my favorite botanical garden here in the Midwest, when I came upon a completely new flower to me. There was a lot of activity around these flowers as well, bees especially. Then I saw the little sign, and it said, "Chocolate Flower." I thought, chocolate flower, what? Its official name is Berlandiera Lyrata and is a native perennial.
You know what I had to do next, right? I smelled the flower. I kid you not, it the yummiest smelling flower I could have ever imagined. Not real almost. In fact, not only is it the yummiest flower I ever smelled, but it is the best smelling flower I can imagine, as far as a fragrance of a tasty treat or dessert. Yes, it smells exactly like chocolate! I have to get this flower for my garden this spring. It is a must. I am in love with this little flower.
The fragrance for these little flowers is strongest in the morning ,evidently. They attract several kinds of beneficial insects as well, including butterflies! Where has this flower been, that I have somehow missed it all this time when planting my butterfly garden? Well, no longer will I be in the dark in regards to this lovely little daisy looking flower.
This plant can sometimes get a bit "leggy" or "straggly," like so many others. You can cut them back, and they will come back more compact and full again. This is true of many flowers in the garden, and herbs as well.
Chocolate flowers grow well naturally in places like the Southwest and in grasslands, especially in the 4000 to 6000 foot range. It has been recommended for perennial borders, and I heard that when several are grown together the fragrance is of course stronger and more easily noticed.
If you happen to have a front or back porch area, or walkway up to the house, these are great areas to plant them as well. That way, the fragrance can be fully enjoyed by you and others that come around. I imagine that window boxes and hanging planters would be the same way. All this talk about nice smelling flowers, takes me back in time to some friends of my mother's, growing up. They lived in California, and had these pretty but stinky flowers along their path up to their house! I kid you not, and they were called or nicknamed skunk flowers. Supposedly, they would repel mosquitoes or something, but often they just about repelled some humans too! So it does matter what you plant along that walkway, as people will notice on a warm still day, for better or for worse. It was a source of fun, we all always joked about those skunk smelling flowers.
These plants grow to be about one foot by two feet, and bloom in the Summer and Fall months. You can plant them in sunny or partially shaded locations. I imagine the sunnier the better however, if you want lots of flowers. They don't require a lot of water, which is good. Generally speaking, they have a fast growth rate, and can be pruned in the winter.
Prolonging the Blooming Period
As with so many other flowers, you can prolong the blooming period for these chocolate daisy flowers by deadheading them. In other words, remove the dead and dying flowers, so the plants energy keeps getting put back into the production of flowers. To not do so, tells the plant to produce the seeds and seed head after a flower dies. It is trying to ensure its survival and longevity. I do let favorite flowers go to seed however, at the very end of the season, as I love to collect those favorite seeds for the next year and to share. Do keep an eye on the neat design the flower makes when it goes to seed. It is so different and unique looking, unlike any of my other flowers I have grown.