Swamp Sunflower

Every spring our Garden Club has a plant sale fundraiser.  Much of the money raised is a result of members buying each others’ plants.  Each year I buy plants that I have not heard of or seen before.  In 2011 I bought a small swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustiflolius).  Aangustus means narrow, as in narrow leaves.  It is sometimes called willow-leaf or narrow-leaf sunflower.

By late spring this year it had spread to six plants.  They are about 2 1/2′ tall here in April and continue to grow slowly but steadily until midsummer.

Then it begins to branch out and the sunflower buds appear.

By late August, the growth speeds up with leaps in a few days.

Finally, they grow to 7 or 8 feet before all the buds burst open.

This picture and the following ones are the middle of September.

Although this is called a Swamp Sunflower, these pictures testify to the fact that they grow in clay with very little water.  They would probably be happier in a rich, moist soil by the edge of a stream. But I don’t know how they would perform differently.  There might be greater spreading and more blooms.

This sunflower is native to the US and grows in zones 6-9.  To produce bushier, more compact plants, they should be cut back by a third in June.  I’m going to try that next year.

It dies down to the ground after a good freeze.  There are no serious pest or disease problems but can be susceptible to powdery mildew and spittle bugs.  I have not had that problem.

  Swamp Sunflower attracts native butterflies, bees and birds, and is deer resistant, to boot. This is one of those plants that looks better in a larger yard or against the fence behind other plants.

If you have room and like the look of native flowers in the field, you would enjoy this plant.  It’s fun to watch it grow.

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.  Marcel Proust

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