Flora of the Week--Helianthus Angustifolius
Our native Swamp Sunflower is in bloom right now. Which is why I had to have one, even before I knew what other assets it had. I was looking for a native with some "stature" that would be a fall bloomer and happy in my front yard. I wasn't concerned about deer resistance (though swamp sunflower is), but height mattered.
Now let me be clear. Once again, this is a cultivar of a native. The native, as you may have guessed, likes consistently moist to soggy soil. You absolutely cannot let it dry out. If you have such conditions on your land, than this would be a fabulous true native to hunt down and put into place for fall color and pollinator happiness. Being as how I
no swamp, I have to settle for the cultivar. Dear me. This wad of yellow flowers is just so inadequate.
Seriously, the conditions in which the cultivar has been placed are southern exposure, full sun, raised bed (good drainage but can dry out--have to keep an eye on it), front yard--and therefore a focal point. From left to right, there is a bit of a progression in the order of blooms. The
has been planted on the right side, behind some perfectly fabulous sage that has bloomed for months, now. It is now approximately four feet tall, though it is likely that once it is better established it will reach six. Depending on the cultivar you find and the location you choose, some reach ten feet!
Swamp Sunflower does like sun, but can make do in partly sunny locations. If it finds itself in a partly sunny location, you may need to stake it, and it will likely have fewer blooms. The foliage is finely textured--narrow, deep green leaves. It attracts birds, butterflies and smiles! But not deer. For those who live in coastal regions,
is salt tolerant. It will spread by way of rhizomes and under ideal conditions (very wet) can get out of hand. Bog areas or rain gardens would be possibilities for Swamp Sunflower, as long as they get plenty of sun.
The main advantage of the cultivar is its ability to survive in average garden soil. We've got ours mulched well in an attempt to protect it against the inevitable dry spell caused by inattentive gardeners. It hasn't taken long for the local skippers to find it (as you can see in the photo), and the mass of the plant balances the
on the left side of the bed. In addition, the yellow of the sunflowers works off the purple of both the vitex and the sage for a zingy relationship based on the fact that the colors are
. So paint your garden with some sunflowers! You only have about 50 varieties to choose from... but this one is a real winner!